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Charlotte Amalie
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Candidates Address Property Taxes at St. John Forum

Aug. 27, 2008 — St. John residents put property taxes at the top of the agenda for senatorial candidates Wednesday' at the Coral Bay Community Council Candidates Forum, held at the Westin Resort and Villas.
"In the constitution, we can place something similar to Proposition 13 in California," said former at-large Sen. Craig Barshinger.
Under Proposition 13, houses were reassessed for property-tax purposes when they were bought, said Barshinger, who is a member of the Constitutional Convention. They were not reassessed until they were sold again, which would ensure that residents wouldn't be faced with whopping increases such as those expected in the tax bills mailed recently.
Former Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg promised he would push for another look at how properties were valued. St. John property owners have complained that the District Court-ordered property assessment was based on a time period when St. John homes were selling at top dollar. And since most of the sales were expensive homes in the vacation-villa market, the values of more modest homes owned by full-time residents were not included in the overall picture.
The forum brought out only two sitting senators, Louis P. Hill and Alvin Williams.
Several residents came because they wanted to hear what the at-large candidates had to say. While only Barshinger, Harry Daniel and Lorelei Monsanto will face off in the Sept. 13 Democratic Primary, several people said they were disappointed that the current at-large senator, Sen. Carmen Wesselhoft, an ICM party member, did not attend.
Community Council member Barbara Thompson said Wesselhoft was meeting with her St. Croix constituents.
While it wasn't exactly Obama vs. McCain, Daniel took a few potshots at the absent Wesselhoft.
"We need someone who can deliver," Daniel said. "I was anticipating the senator at large would look out for St. John."
The residents also voted to have moderator Sharon Coldren ask what the candidates would do about the poor state of recreational facilities on St. John.
Candidate Myron Jackson said he had a chance to see some of St. John's facilities on his way from the Cruz Bay ferry dock to the Westin.
"Why are the facilities in such deplorable condition?" he asked, comparing them to the top-notch recreational facilities at the Westin.
Monsanto complained that St. Thomas got all the recreational improvements while St. John got nothing.
Former congressional Delegate Victor Frazer will face off against Delegate Donna M. Christensen in the Democratic Primary. Christensen is in Denver at the Democratic Convention, but Frazer took his turn at the microphone to ask voters to return him to Washington.
Referring to Christensen's push for a chief financial officer for the territory, Frazer said he hasn't seen any reason to create such a position.
"The office should represent the will of the people, not the office holder," Frazer said.
Emmett Hansen II asked voters to elect him to the post of Democratic Party chairman.
Also attending Wednesday's event were senatorial candidates Shirley Sadler, Tregenza Roach, Stedman Hodge Jr., Samuel Harvey, Moses Carty Sr., Helen B. Baker and Krim Ballentine.
In the Sept. 13 Democratic primary, the following will vie for seven ballot positions in the November election: Jackson, Williams, Sadler, Donastorg, Hill and Louis Willis, Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone and Patrick Simeon Sprauve.
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