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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesSenate Panel Approves Fuel Excise Tax Cut

Senate Panel Approves Fuel Excise Tax Cut

Gas at the pump may be slightly cheaper than it would have been and WAPA may get some help purchasing more fuel efficient generators if a bill approved by the Rules and Judiciary Committee Thursday becomes law.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Carlton "Ital" Dowe and six other senators, would increase fuel tax from seven cents to 14 cents, while eliminating the current six percent excise tax on imported gasoline and diesel. The 6 percent tax has not been collected because gasoline and diesel was being produced within the territory at Hovensa refinery, which will cease supplying gasoline at the end of June.

If the tax remained on the books, when the territory starts importing gasoline in quantity, "gas prices would increase some 21 cents more" per gallon, Dowe said.

The bill would then allocate those fuel tax revenues to purchase new, more efficient power generating units in both districts and help the V.I. Water and Power Authority secure bond financing, all of which should lower fuel consumption, and hence lower customer’s bills, currently among the highest in the nation.

Voting to move the measure on to the full Senate for a final vote were Dowe, Sens. Ronald Russell, Sammuel Sanes, Patrick Sprauve, Celestino White and Usie Richards.

Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen was absent at the time of the vote.

Rules also moved forward a bill sponsored by Sanes and Sen. Nereida "Nellie" Rivera-O’Reilly to extend the required layoff notice time for plant closures to 180 days. Current law requires companies that close, relocate or lay off 10 or more employees to give 90 days’ advance notice and pay severance equal to a week of pay per year of employment.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Alvin Williams to authorize the governor to execute an agreement to establish a technical school on St. Thomas also got the thumbs-up from the committee Thursday. No funding currently exists for the project, and the bill does not identify or appropriate any funds. Since the governor must come to the Legislature to approve leases and land purchases, the measure will help the government proceed once it has funds, Williams said, in support of the measure.

Bolongo Bay Beach Resort principal and managing director Richard Doumeng’s nomination for a post on the V.I. Taxi Association got the nod from the committee and will be given a final vote when the Senate meets in session April 19 and 20.

The committee held a bill to exempt JROTC instructors from recent 8 percent government employee salary reductions pending some clarification from the federal government as to whether locally hired and paid JROTC instructors’ salaries can be cut and how the minimum allowable salary is computed.

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