The Virgin Islands Daily News published two stories last week that have been gnawing at me. They were headlined, OMB chief projects V.I. revenue will increase $26 million and, a day later, DeJongh submits $15.3 million supplemental spending bill.
Debra Gottlieb, the director of the Office and Management and Budget, told the Senate Finance Committee that "anticipated increases in real property tax collections based on newly assessed values" are the reason. And even before any Senators had sniffed the smell of new money, the Governor came in on top of them to propose new ways to spend it. When the initial property re-revaluation numbers came out, I waited for Senators to put 2 and 2 together. The Governor beat them to it.
Now, thanks to the unbelievable increases in St. John real estate assessments, and with property owners unsure only of how high their new taxes will be, it appears the government is eagerly waiting to see the trough filled.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable for corrections officers to get long-delayed overtime payments, or for firefighters and supervisors to receive their also long-delayed raises and to pay other personnel and health services costs. These bills were way overdue.
What could this mean to you? Real estate taxes are part of a busines’s operating costs – doesn’t matter whether it’s a restaurant, a gift shop, or … a hardware store, a supermarket, a fruit stand, a timeshare development or …. dare I say … a villa.
It’s simple mathematics. If a villa, condo, resort or timeshare has been socked with a 500% higher assessment, the owner knows real estate taxes are going to up. What do we know about business costs? "Business" doesn’t pay them. The consumer does.
This is why every vacationer and visitor to St. John has a stake in the revaluation process of properties on St. John. Bottom line advice: book your next villa stay asap.