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Waste Management Survives as Authority

After slinging several arrows at the V.I. Waste Management Authority, the Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee voted Wednesday to table indefinitely a bill to bring Waste Management into the local government fold by making it an agency. Waste Management will remain an independent authority guided by its board of directors.

The crux of Waste Management’s problems is centered on its inability to develop a program to charge tipping fees so it could become self-supporting. Sen. Louis P. Hill, who chaired the meeting, faulted published reports that in his view erroneously reported what the fees would be.

Hill said those published fees were based on the weight of the entire product as purchased, not the cost of getting rid of things like the packaging after the food was eaten. For example, he said the published report indicated the weight of eggs at 1.5 pounds.

However, Hill said that once the egg was eaten and the biodegradable shell disposed off, only the carton was left.

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He said that because the public feared the cost of food would rise substantially when the fees were added in, the initiative to charge them died.

“There was an uproar,” he said.

Sen. Nereida Rivera O’Reilly pressed the point that Waste Management didn’t have enough funding and manpower from its inception eight years ago.

Waste Management Director May Adams Cornwall agreed and said at full “build out” the authority would have 265 employees. It currently has 160, and because employees retired under the recent retirement package program, those still working have even more to do.

Sen. Ronald Russell wanted to know why the government had to pay Alpine to do a waste-to-energy program when it would be more appropriate for Waste Management to buy the equipment and train the people to operate it.

Russell said that he sees the board of directors responsible for that.

Board chairman Dodson James responded that there was only so much a board could do.

Cornwall agreed with suggestions that her staff be cross-trained to do multiple jobs.

“We will refocus and reinvent,” she said.

Hill also told her that she needs to get her staff to “stop drinking, stop smoking marijuana and come to work on time.”

“You’ve got to step up,” he said.

A major Coastal Zone Management Permit for Compass Point Marina got the okay and was sent on to the full Senate for its action. The marina plans to construct additional docks to bring the total number of boat slips to 162, to add in channel markers and to make some other improvements.

The rent for use of the territory’s submerged land starts at $40,000 for the first three years. It rises to $61,000 with other increases planned during 20-year life of the permit.

Architect Tracy Roberts said the pile driving necessary to build the docks will happen only between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. She estimated it would take 10 to 12 days to complete that aspect of the job.

She said Compass Point employees will build the docks.

The senators agreed to hold two bills until the next committee meeting. One would give Little St. James LLC a major CZM permit to add two structures to its existing dock, to add two mooring buoys and to allow continued use of the dock on a cay off St. Thomas.

O’Reilly uncovered information that seems to indicate Little St. James transferred the company to Nautilus Inc. in December. The senators agreed that clarification is needed before any permit can be issued.

Denise Francois, attorney for Little St. James, said she was unaware of any change in ownership but said that since no stamp tax was charged, it looked like the two companies have the same ownership.

A bill to establish rules for the purchase and resale of scrap metal and to establish licensing requirement for scrap metal dealers was also held.

O’Reilly, who sponsored the bill, said she just received some good suggestions on the matter and wanted to draft an amendment to include them.

In addition to Hill, Russell, Sprauve, and O’Reilly, Sen. Carlton Dowe attended the meeting. All voted yes on motions concerning the four bills. Other committee members Sen. Craig Barshinger and Sen. Neville James were absent.

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After slinging several arrows at the V.I. Waste Management Authority, the Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee voted Wednesday to table indefinitely a bill to bring Waste Management into the local government fold by making it an agency. Waste Management will remain an independent authority guided by its board of directors.

The crux of Waste Management’s problems is centered on its inability to develop a program to charge tipping fees so it could become self-supporting. Sen. Louis P. Hill, who chaired the meeting, faulted published reports that in his view erroneously reported what the fees would be.

Hill said those published fees were based on the weight of the entire product as purchased, not the cost of getting rid of things like the packaging after the food was eaten. For example, he said the published report indicated the weight of eggs at 1.5 pounds.

However, Hill said that once the egg was eaten and the biodegradable shell disposed off, only the carton was left.

He said that because the public feared the cost of food would rise substantially when the fees were added in, the initiative to charge them died.

“There was an uproar,” he said.

Sen. Nereida Rivera O’Reilly pressed the point that Waste Management didn’t have enough funding and manpower from its inception eight years ago.

Waste Management Director May Adams Cornwall agreed and said at full “build out” the authority would have 265 employees. It currently has 160, and because employees retired under the recent retirement package program, those still working have even more to do.

Sen. Ronald Russell wanted to know why the government had to pay Alpine to do a waste-to-energy program when it would be more appropriate for Waste Management to buy the equipment and train the people to operate it.

Russell said that he sees the board of directors responsible for that.

Board chairman Dodson James responded that there was only so much a board could do.

Cornwall agreed with suggestions that her staff be cross-trained to do multiple jobs.

“We will refocus and reinvent,” she said.

Hill also told her that she needs to get her staff to “stop drinking, stop smoking marijuana and come to work on time.”

“You’ve got to step up,” he said.

A major Coastal Zone Management Permit for Compass Point Marina got the okay and was sent on to the full Senate for its action. The marina plans to construct additional docks to bring the total number of boat slips to 162, to add in channel markers and to make some other improvements.

The rent for use of the territory’s submerged land starts at $40,000 for the first three years. It rises to $61,000 with other increases planned during 20-year life of the permit.

Architect Tracy Roberts said the pile driving necessary to build the docks will happen only between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. She estimated it would take 10 to 12 days to complete that aspect of the job.

She said Compass Point employees will build the docks.

The senators agreed to hold two bills until the next committee meeting. One would give Little St. James LLC a major CZM permit to add two structures to its existing dock, to add two mooring buoys and to allow continued use of the dock on a cay off St. Thomas.

O’Reilly uncovered information that seems to indicate Little St. James transferred the company to Nautilus Inc. in December. The senators agreed that clarification is needed before any permit can be issued.

Denise Francois, attorney for Little St. James, said she was unaware of any change in ownership but said that since no stamp tax was charged, it looked like the two companies have the same ownership.

A bill to establish rules for the purchase and resale of scrap metal and to establish licensing requirement for scrap metal dealers was also held.

O’Reilly, who sponsored the bill, said she just received some good suggestions on the matter and wanted to draft an amendment to include them.

In addition to Hill, Russell, Sprauve, and O’Reilly, Sen. Carlton Dowe attended the meeting. All voted yes on motions concerning the four bills. Other committee members Sen. Craig Barshinger and Sen. Neville James were absent.