St. John has been paying trash “tipping fees” for over 20 years. St. Johnians have been paying these fees with our STJ Capital Improvement Funds and we are the only island of our “sister islands” that has to pay for our trash service. St. John pays as much as $1.5 million a year to haul our trash, while St. Thomas, St. Croix, and Water Island pay nothing. Why is St. John being singled out and robbed of our capital improvements?
We all know that St. John’s trash has a barge trip, but let’s ask the Waste Management Authority, what is the cost of hauling trash for each island? What does it cost to haul trash from West End of St. Thomas to Bovoni, from Christiansted or Frederiksted to their dump? Doesn’t that cost money as well? Let’s also ask WMA, “Why, as an Authority, are your services not budgeted for the Territory, without such a special fee leveled on the least represented island?” Why has stealing St. John’s future become so convenient for our leaders that they can take away our funding without considering the effect on our community?
The Waste Management Authority is now seeking to charge each household in the Territory a $45 per year “tipping fee” for trash hauling, does that mean “double dipping tipping” for St. John? Will St. John have to pay the fee and lose our capital improvements?
The St. John Capital Improvement Fund was intended to help each island with its capital improvements. St. Croix has never missed a payment, while St. John has never received capital improvement funds. St. John’s Capital Improvement Funds were intended to create such amenities as: a youth sports center, a multi-purpose center, sidewalks, waterfront improvements, a vendor’s village, parking, better schools, after school programs, a bigger and better Carnival Village, a marina, and so much more. Since the fund has been created, we have lost funding totaling almost $40 million. Just think what $40 million in capital improvements could have created in the last 25 years for St. John.
To all of us who have worked diligently for years lobbying to get our STJ Capital Improvement Funds restored for capital projects, even pushing the Senate to override the Governor’s veto by 14 to 1, I urge that we establish a plan to use any funds which may come our way in the future, or they will be lost. Are we really expecting STT and STX to come to St. John to tell us how to use our funds? They will only swipe away our funds to their use at any possibility. Without a plan, without a goal, without earmarking these monies and opportunities, they will fall to those who want them and who have the power to take them away from us.
I call on all of our leaders, Governor de Jongh and each of our Senators, to do the right thing and give us our STJ Capital Improvement Funds and to stop stealing St. John’s future. We need to fix our island too!