Home News Local news Money Woes Continue to Plague Port Authority Board Members

Money Woes Continue to Plague Port Authority Board Members


The V.I. Port Authority governing board again approved a motion to write off U.S. Customs debts amounting to $3.5 million for fiscal year 2012. The board also voted to write off several tens of thousands in bad debt items, including inactive accounts and non-sufficient funds.

Gordon Finch of the board’s financial committee recommended VIPA write off the Customs’ balance. According to him, most of the write offs are “unsolvable, and this is just a formal process to clear the books. Just because it is written off doesn’t mean it will disappear.”

“This is the second prong of a collection plan. The first prong was to stop the bleeding,” he said.

Documents submitted by Finch state that “as of 2008, Customs became delinquent in its [sic] submission of user fees collected on behalf of the VIPA. The result is a large receivable on the books.”

Originally, VIPA selected Customs to collect user fees for cargo in and out of the territory, according to background information in Finch’s documents. The consequence is several millions in debt that Customs cannot pay.

VIPA wrote off $6.2 million in Customs debt in fiscal year 2009 and received $1.7 million from Customs in fiscal year 2010, but no other payments have been made. VIPA began collecting their own cargo fees in March 2011.

Money continued to dominate discussion at Wednesday’s meeting on St. Thomas as each committee discussed the status of other projects, a majority of those also focused on the perpetual theme of money.

Another pressing financial concern is renovating a larger space for the Transportation Security Administration to move into. Interim Executive Director at VIPA Don Mills suggested turning over projects such as these to other departments. That would relieve some of the money woes facing VIPA.

VIPA board members believed they could work strategies in their favor to earn money in other areas.

The V.I. Housing and Finance Authority Director Adrienne Williams proposed a low income credit housing program, but VIPA would have to distribute tax credits as opposed to allocating them for VIPA. The board would have to first locate an entity to buy or lease the land, and then apply for the tax credits.

“There’s not much hope of getting assistance,” said board chairman Robert O’Connor Jr.

All other property committee projects were approved in an attempt to generate more money for VIPA. This includes extending aviation and retail areas, so stores will have more space to bring in more revenue. A larger space also results in an increased rent that goes back to VIPA.

However, Finch worried that the board accepted nearly every opportunity to make money in their financially difficult time without fully considering the outcome.

“Next time we get an application, let’s look at our plan and decide whether or not it fits in with our vision,” he said. “All of the spaces have been leased, but it doesn’t mean they’re still thriving.”

Financial updates for March 2012 show $4.8 million in revenue, or a four percent decrease compared to March 2011 operating expenses. The net increase in assets on March 31, 2012 was $1 million.

Information for fiscal year to date revenues and expenditures was also available. In comparison to 2011 fiscal year, operating revenues increased by one percent, and total operating expenditures increased four percent. The Year-To-Date (YTD) operating loss shows an increase of 63 percent, while total year-to-date non-operating income increased by 21 percent. The net increase in assets is $2.5 million or a 66 percent decrease compared to the 2011 fiscal year.

In the aviation division, revenues increased two percent from March 2011, and current operating expenditures are consistent with March 2011; YTD aviation revenues increased four percent from fiscal year 2011 and YTD aviation operating expenditures show a 12 percent increase.


  1. Seems to me that all of our Government entities need a CFO. The legislature cannot balance their budget, forgives debt and so does VIPA, just to name a few.
    How long can the Virgin Island people continue to be bled dry because these government entities cannot manage money and continue to incur NEEDLESS debt because they don’t know basic math. Who is in charge of collecting all the money and where did it go?
    Ditto for our $6.9 Million, Senators.

    Time indeed for a CFO or for the Federal Government to come in and put all the thieves away.

  2. Maybe, I am missing something but how does the US Customs get away with owing the VIPA this money? Why did the VIPA decide to cart blanche Customs, allowing them to collect fees on their behalf? Why did it take the VIPA so long before they realized that we could perform these functions for ourselves? The VIPA needs new representation; a more dynamic group of individuals to take the helm.

  3. I like the part about putting “all the thieves away.” That would probably leave the halls of this government empty. I’m beginning to think that no government here would be better than THIS inept and corrupt bunch of government thieves.

  4. Money woes, the headlines should read
    Any company that has spent close to $100,000.00 in payments to another govt. entity instead of spending that money to promptly complete dredging to accommodate ships to Crown Bay needs new management and a new board.
    I hope that they bring in new blood with a new CEO and once hired I hope that all the board members resign and new people are instated. Otherwise it will just be business as usual…….

  5. Poor management IS the real issue here!
    St. Johns entire waterfront is badly managed by VIPA. Just watch the absolute chaos each day at the 3, 4, 5 and 6 ferry daily arrivals.
    for YEARS citizens have requested solutions to this traffic/safety issues; taxicabs fighting for customers; double parking- all fighting for just a few minutes to get Guests and luggage out of there; the bus and cars parked so unsafely that one wonders how a serious accident has not yet occured!!!Guest Meeters – many of them-attempting to get their guests out of the point of entry horrendous “first impression” and “out of town” (and we wonder WHY Guests “stay out of Cruz Bay and do not frequent the many businesses that are suppose to keep the Gov. in taxes?)IF the VIPA cannot even solve BASIC probelsm like this…how the heck can they manage other issues?
    How about the parking lot across from rhe PO where NOONE monitors cars and taxi vehicles left all day when it is suppose to be 1/2 parking?
    This is just another example of the poor management that is called VIPA!
    AND further we need “new blood” in there besdies the political appointees and long time Board Members who really NEED to strat working for the good of St. John.
    THEREIN lies the problem, folks!Linited (as usual) Represnetation for the Island of St. John!!!
    Bonny Corbeil, St. John.


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