Home Commentary Open forum V.I. CANNOT AFFORD MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT

V.I. CANNOT AFFORD MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT

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Dear Source,
On January 6, 2003, I listened to the swearing ceremonies for the governor and lieutenant governor and, in particular, the governor's speech accepting a second term in office.
Knowing His Excellency the Governor, I do believe that he wants to leave a legacy of good service to the people of the Virgin Islands at the end of his second term. However, the governor pledged to work for municipal government, which will be an addition to the existing structure of government. While municipal government sounds politically correct, the people should ask themselves if the territory of the Virgin Islands can afford this additional layer of government for three islands with a population of 100,000 residents.
Municipal government could mean another layer of government payroll, office space, more vehicles, municipal government legislators and other perks. How would revenues be raised to pay for the operations of municipal government? Would there be revenue sharing with the central government, which has been spending on deficits for the past decade? Just who will pay for such a structure?
It seems to me that the desire for the delivery of better services to the communities of the islands is to make the commissioners and their staffs more responsive to the needs of the citizens. Make each department head accountable for his or her stewardship. Require commissioners to get out of their ivory towers and meet with community leaders to see and hear for themselves and take the appropriate actions. Particularly, the commissioners of Police, Public Works, Agriculture, and Licensing and Consumer Affairs should hold public hearings once per quarter in different locations to listen to the needs of the people.
The Virgin Islands cannot afford another layer of government. While the proposition may sound politically appealing, the real truth says that it is not wise. The Virgin Islands placed the 1936 Organic Act in the archives of history 66 years ago and replaced it with the Revised Organic Act of 1954.
Eric E. Dawson, Esq.
Fairfax, Va.

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