Dear Source,
I have been a frequent extended visitor to St Croix for over a decade. The few remaining airlines have decided to gouge the residents of the Virgin Islands, as well as potential visitors.
They have justified their price hikes and promotional cutbacks (such as the elimination of senior fare coupons) with fluctuations in fuel prices (which, by the way, are not concomitantly reflected in their airfares unless the fuel prices escalate), the far-reaching impact of the September 11 tragedy, and the availability of other more profitable destinations. The airline servicing St. Croix is virtually devoid of any competition, and they can take advantage of this.
Regardless of how much bearing these downward events have had on the airlines' rates is debatable, they nevertheless use this as an excuse to aim the blame for their lack of service and outrageous fares. So what do you do? You increase the landing fees, which are already the highest on earth. Brilliant. On the other hand, the V.I. Port Authority can squarely lay the majority of the blame of their anticipated deficit on the Virgin Islands government. Tourism, with the exception of the V.I. Tourism Department, has been virtually wiped out. Whether by virtue of crime, rude and incompetent treatment by hospitality workers, or just a bunch of raw sewage floating past hotel rooms, this government has effectively eliminated yet another source of revenue. Can you imagine a hotel, restaurant, jewelry store, taxi driver, golf course, or any other tourism provider increasing their fees by 35 percent? The Federal government sure didn't increase welfare payments by 35 percent. In fact, they eliminated them. Both VIPA and the V.I. government are making a huge mistake by trying to increase taxes when you have a much smaller taxable basis than in prior years. If you would grow your private sector, taxes would automatically flow to your government. Increasing tax rates only serves to cut taxes collected. It's just that simple. When you have a paltry and rapidly dwindling tax basis, you can increase tax rates till the cows come home and collect less and less tax revenues. You folks are extremely shortsighted and uneducated in the fundamentals of economics. This is apparent in your huge deficit. If your government generated more revenue, thereby collecting more taxes, officials might miraculously find the money to comply with a federal mandate to clean up the sewage (after, of course, they give themselves hefty raises. Yes, then they could steal without drawing so much nationwide attention.). Maybe they could see fit to give raises to actual productive workers as well. Those raises are long promised and overdue. Maybe they could afford to repair public schools, and provide them with books and supplies instead of whimsical and meaningless metal detectors. Perhaps they could even identify some taxpayers' funds to refurbish, staff, and stock the hospitals instead of cutting appropriations.
I honestly believe that these delusional politicians need a fundamental understanding of how a solvent economy functions. Instead, they seem to be under the impression that they, who are public servants, should be allotted taxpayer-funded chauffeurs and bodyguards, new SUV's, frivolous travel expenses, ludicrous salaries, all the while maintaining zero accountability but still anticipating respect. Doesn't anyone with the purse strings understand this? The U.S. Virgin Islands can and should be a showcase society. Why are your politicians actively trying to ruin you? Can't you eliminate this 'General Fund' and dedicate your taxes to their intended objectives? Can you for once keep your government out of decision-making for which they have already appointed their administrators? If so, a lot of debt could be erased right off the bat.
I followed your local news because I seriously considered donating monies to St Croix. Having seen how your dictatorship steals everything they can get their hands on, with zero consideration for their taxpayers, I still follow your news but only for the hilarity and incredulity of it. You can't make this stuff up. Rest assured that we on the mainland (who foot your bills) are paying very close attention to your self-imposed catastrophe.
Al Lofton
Metairie, La.

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