Gov. Charles Turnbull expects a bill to be signed by President Bush this week will be a near disaster for the islands’ economy.
The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 contains provisions relative to the Economic Development Commission, clarifying the nearly 20-year-old plan. It requires EDC company principals to reside in the islands at least 183 days a year. And the government said that it appears income eligible for exemption from federal taxation will be limited to revenues generated on the islands, according to a report by the St. John Source. Peter Hiebert, Washington counsel for the V.I. government, told the Source, the EDC program was valuable because it “brought increased intellectual capital and increased creativity, as well as financial resources.” Government officials fear changes in the EDC will cause some VI-based companies to close up shop.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue estimated EDC companies contribute $115 million a year to the territory’s coffers.
St. John has three gas stations and Andrew Rutnik, the Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner, suggests perhaps there should be more. He told a news conference more gas stations in the St. Thomas/St. John District might bring down the cost of fuel. He was reporting on his office’s $60,000 study that found Virgin Islanders pay the world’s highest price for a gallon of gas, excluding taxes. “With the presence of Hovensa on the island of St. Croix, and the close proximity of St. Thomas/St. John to this refinery, Virgin Islanders should be benefiting handsomely in lower fuel costs,” he said, according to a report by the St. John Source.
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Part of a U.S. Transportation Department grant to the Virgin Islands will go for construction of a new maintenance facility for the Virgin Islands Public Transit System on St. John. VITRAN operates a bus route between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. The Governor’s office announced the federal government allocated a total of $2.4 million, “to assist the (VI) government in the administration, planning and operation of the bus service,” according to the St. John Source.
Gym in Paradise, on the third floor of the Marketplace is being offered at $300,000 by Holiday Homes, added to the Multiple Listing service in the past week. Meanwhile, the Wicker, Wood & Shells, gift shop at Mongoose Junction I came off the listing.
On the residential side, one home came back on the market, while another property’s price was cut. The returning property is a 3-bedroom, 3-bath property which, from its offering photos, looks to be under construction. Asking price is $895,000. Meanwhile, a newly-completed 3-bedroom, 3.5 bath house with waterfall (!) overlooking Rendezvous Bay was repriced on the MLS at $2,250,000, down almost $350,000.
The overall market’s statistics: 37 residential listings, one more than last week; 123 land lots, unchanged; 9 condos, also unchanged, and 94 timeshares, also steady.
The water quality at half a dozen St. John beaches has been approved safe for swimming in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Jeanne. They are Cruz Bay, Oppenheimer, Francis Bay, Klein Bay, Chocolate Hole and Frank Bay, according to a report by the Virgin Islands Daily News. Four beaches on St. Thomas, however, failed tests by the government: Limetree, Hull Bay, Morningstar and Hart Bay. Tests were conducted due to the heavy rains and wind which., in some cases, stirred up sediment and debris and caused some manholes to overflow.
Gov. Turnbull and other territorial government officials were scheduled to be in Los Angeles late this week to participate in a federally-sponsored conference on business opportunities in the islands. An estimated 700 attendees were expected to participate in the 2nd annual Interior Department conference to interest businesses in locating in U.S. territories. The conference came in the wake of a New York Times article, raising concerns about the future of incentives for economic development in the Virgin Islands.