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VIPA Explores Exempting Some From Ferry Fees

April 24, 2009 — The Virgin Islands Port Authority governing board is looking into exempting certain groups from paying fees at the Red Hook ferry terminal.
Following requests from Gov. John deJongh Jr. and a group representing commuters from St. John, the board on Friday approved an investigation by Port Authority staff into letting students, senior citizens, daily commuters and those seeking medical attention on St. Thomas skip the 25 cents each-way fee.
The board's action at its monthly meeting at VIPA offices on St. Thomas comes on the heels of approval by the V.I. Public Services Commission to increase fares on the ferries between St. Thomas and St. John.
The measure, introduced by board member Robert O'Connor, will explore the age requirements for seniors, what parameters will be applied for people who have to go to St. Thomas for medical attention, and for other exemption as well as assess the financial impact on the authority.
Pointing out that the fee will not affect visitors in the same way it does people who have to ride the ferry every day, O'Connor said the implementation of the fees is a ways off, but at least the board's action today would put into place the tools to amend the tariff to allow the exemptions.
"I would like for analysis to include how specific we are being to implement the conditions," board member Gordon A. Finch said. "Because the governor has asked us to do it I am willing to look [at the proposed exemptions], but we are going to have to be precise in terms of who gets them and how much."
The purchase of turnstiles, which would collect the fee, has been put on hold until the Port Authority meets with the ferry companies, to look for more efficiencies and cost savings. The meeting is anticipated within the next week, according to Dale Gregory, the authority's engineering director.
Making the exemptions might cost the authority some of the anticipated $500,000 in revenue, but it will just be a drop missing from the revenues bucket, especially with revenues so far this fiscal year falling off by nearly 11 percent over the same period in 2008. Year to date operating revenue for 2009 was $18,527,723, while the 2008 figure for the same period was $20,745,266. The authority realized a 3.5 percent decrease in operating expenditures, reporting $21,995,641 for 2009, down $797,486 for the same period for 2008.
The authority realized a net decrease in assets of $2,502,878, according to Judith James, VIPA director of administration and finance.
The authority is still owed customs dues from the V.I. government amounting to $4,527,614, and Don Mills, the authority's general counsel, is corresponding with the governor's office to resolve the issue.
The authority has a number of other outstanding receivables, largely for rents and operational charges. The marine division led all other divisions with accounts more than a month behind, totaling $1,575,765.
Jack Reynolds, a consultant in Federal Aviation Administration matters, presented a number of issues that the authority needed to consider to get the maximum amount of funding allowable through the FAA and to recover funding lost due to non-compliance with FAA grant requirements.
"It is good for us to devote time and resources to see if we can cure problems we had with these grants," board chairman Cassan Pancham said.
Pancham noted that the funds represented some $1.2 million.
"To help the Port Authority get in compliance and remain in compliance with grant assurances, you agree to do certain things," Reynolds said. "The idea is to keep all income you make on the airport to run the airport and keep airport open. There are several compliance issues, some which need to be solved before the FAA will authorize discretionary funds."
Reynolds explained that an agreement had to be reached between the Port Authority and the V.I. Waste Management Authority for a waste treatment plant and a new transfer station on St. Croix.
FAA stipulations include shutting down the Anguilla Landfill on St. Croix, an effort that is critical to the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport there staying in FAA compliance. The proximity of the landfill and the birds it attracts is cause for some concern among the authority's board and staff.
"The FAA is looking for some assurance that the landfill will be capped off and sealed and not be a bird problem ever again," Reynolds said. "Then the discretionary funding will become available."
In other actions the board approved an amendment to a lease offer to MSI Building Supplies allowing 3.5 years to complete improvements to the leased property.
The board also approved a lease of nearly 5,000 square feet to the Election Systems of the Virgin Islands at the Austin "Babe" Monsanto Marine Terminal, with a proposed rental rate of $20 per square foot.
The receiver for Sanford Financial Group has contacted the authority with regard to the 36 acres leased by the company. There is some uncertainty whether the lease would be surrendered back to VIPA, according to Denise Mills.
Tropical Shipping will be offered a five-year lease extension for their lease of the facility with a 30-ton gantry crane at the container port on St. Croix.
The board also approved award to V.I. Asphalt Products Corp. in the amount of $79,341 for rehabilitating the apron in front of the Seaborne and Seaflight facilities at Rohlsen airport.
Board members Albert Bryan, Jr. and Frazer O'Connor were also in attendance. Absent from the meeting were Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Hector Peguero, Public Works Commissioner Darryl A. Smalls and Yvonne E. L. Thraen.
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April 24, 2009 -- The Virgin Islands Port Authority governing board is looking into exempting certain groups from paying fees at the Red Hook ferry terminal.
Following requests from Gov. John deJongh Jr. and a group representing commuters from St. John, the board on Friday approved an investigation by Port Authority staff into letting students, senior citizens, daily commuters and those seeking medical attention on St. Thomas skip the 25 cents each-way fee.
The board's action at its monthly meeting at VIPA offices on St. Thomas comes on the heels of approval by the V.I. Public Services Commission to increase fares on the ferries between St. Thomas and St. John.
The measure, introduced by board member Robert O'Connor, will explore the age requirements for seniors, what parameters will be applied for people who have to go to St. Thomas for medical attention, and for other exemption as well as assess the financial impact on the authority.
Pointing out that the fee will not affect visitors in the same way it does people who have to ride the ferry every day, O'Connor said the implementation of the fees is a ways off, but at least the board's action today would put into place the tools to amend the tariff to allow the exemptions.
"I would like for analysis to include how specific we are being to implement the conditions," board member Gordon A. Finch said. "Because the governor has asked us to do it I am willing to look [at the proposed exemptions], but we are going to have to be precise in terms of who gets them and how much."
The purchase of turnstiles, which would collect the fee, has been put on hold until the Port Authority meets with the ferry companies, to look for more efficiencies and cost savings. The meeting is anticipated within the next week, according to Dale Gregory, the authority's engineering director.
Making the exemptions might cost the authority some of the anticipated $500,000 in revenue, but it will just be a drop missing from the revenues bucket, especially with revenues so far this fiscal year falling off by nearly 11 percent over the same period in 2008. Year to date operating revenue for 2009 was $18,527,723, while the 2008 figure for the same period was $20,745,266. The authority realized a 3.5 percent decrease in operating expenditures, reporting $21,995,641 for 2009, down $797,486 for the same period for 2008.
The authority realized a net decrease in assets of $2,502,878, according to Judith James, VIPA director of administration and finance.
The authority is still owed customs dues from the V.I. government amounting to $4,527,614, and Don Mills, the authority's general counsel, is corresponding with the governor's office to resolve the issue.
The authority has a number of other outstanding receivables, largely for rents and operational charges. The marine division led all other divisions with accounts more than a month behind, totaling $1,575,765.
Jack Reynolds, a consultant in Federal Aviation Administration matters, presented a number of issues that the authority needed to consider to get the maximum amount of funding allowable through the FAA and to recover funding lost due to non-compliance with FAA grant requirements.
"It is good for us to devote time and resources to see if we can cure problems we had with these grants," board chairman Cassan Pancham said.
Pancham noted that the funds represented some $1.2 million.
"To help the Port Authority get in compliance and remain in compliance with grant assurances, you agree to do certain things," Reynolds said. "The idea is to keep all income you make on the airport to run the airport and keep airport open. There are several compliance issues, some which need to be solved before the FAA will authorize discretionary funds."
Reynolds explained that an agreement had to be reached between the Port Authority and the V.I. Waste Management Authority for a waste treatment plant and a new transfer station on St. Croix.
FAA stipulations include shutting down the Anguilla Landfill on St. Croix, an effort that is critical to the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport there staying in FAA compliance. The proximity of the landfill and the birds it attracts is cause for some concern among the authority's board and staff.
"The FAA is looking for some assurance that the landfill will be capped off and sealed and not be a bird problem ever again," Reynolds said. "Then the discretionary funding will become available."
In other actions the board approved an amendment to a lease offer to MSI Building Supplies allowing 3.5 years to complete improvements to the leased property.
The board also approved a lease of nearly 5,000 square feet to the Election Systems of the Virgin Islands at the Austin "Babe" Monsanto Marine Terminal, with a proposed rental rate of $20 per square foot.
The receiver for Sanford Financial Group has contacted the authority with regard to the 36 acres leased by the company. There is some uncertainty whether the lease would be surrendered back to VIPA, according to Denise Mills.
Tropical Shipping will be offered a five-year lease extension for their lease of the facility with a 30-ton gantry crane at the container port on St. Croix.
The board also approved award to V.I. Asphalt Products Corp. in the amount of $79,341 for rehabilitating the apron in front of the Seaborne and Seaflight facilities at Rohlsen airport.
Board members Albert Bryan, Jr. and Frazer O'Connor were also in attendance. Absent from the meeting were Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Hector Peguero, Public Works Commissioner Darryl A. Smalls and Yvonne E. L. Thraen.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.