Governor John de Jongh told the VI Senate the government could be out of money by June. One way to weather the storm is to issue property tax bills.
The Territory's chief executive told the Senate a deficit of $170 million is looming. To reduce it, de Jongh said, there will also have to be expense cutting and a new $100 million bond issue.
He said there will not be "drastic actions like government-wide layoffs, pay cuts, or furloughs," according to the Virgin Islands Daily News. Which is of little comfort for tens of thousands of unemployed Islanders and their former employers.
The Governor also finally cried 'Uncle' on the property tax. While the territory has not collected property taxes for four years, hoping to levy them at grossly higher values set by a VI-wide reassessment, the need for dollars is critical. But Federal courts have again told the government its tax appeal system is inadequate and, until it's fixed, the new valuations can't be used.
So the Governor told the Senate he wants to issue tax bills for 2006 and 2007 at the old rates. This could bring in an estimated $80 million. For many property owners, the difference between the old and the new valuations is thousands of dollars.