85 F
Cruz Bay
Thursday, August 11, 2022


Sen. Lorraine L. Berry has asked Gov. Charles W. Turnbull not to go forward with the so called "Prosser bill" that was passed by the Legislature early Saturday morning. Berry said the bill contains serious legal deficiencies.
Berry also charged that as chair of the Financial Committee, she had recommended a cost-benefit analysis be conducted, but was "repeatedly thwarted in this attempt."
In a letter to Turnbull, Berry said that "though ICC (Jeffrey Prosser's Innovative Communications Corporation) admitted it will receive $180 million over a 30-year period in tax exemptions, our post auditor estimated otherwise when he stated, and I quote, ‘Again I reiterate the proposal is very complex, certainly in excess of a $4.5 billion effect.'"
Berry maintained that, though estimates by Prosser's own representatives claim Prosser stands to receive $180 million in tax benefits, the investment he is making is only $14.5 million.
Berry did not include the purchase of land at Carambola in her calculation. The purchase price of the 1,000 acres is estimated to be about $10 million.
Attorney Yvonne L. Tharpes, deputy chief counsel of the Legislature, said, according to Berry, that ICC's proposal to convey the 1,000 acres to the government was conditioned on being able to acquire the property and also on obtaining R-4 zoning (120 persons per acre) instead of R-3 (80 persons per acre). Berry said Tharpes indicated she was mystified by the requirement.
Tharpes also questioned whether Prosser could automatically transfer the 30 years' tax exemptions that are part of the agreement if he were to sell the 300-room hotel and resort which he proposes to build, to new owners.
Berry expressed concern that "nowhere was there any mention of the amount of any required construction investment by ICC, nor any projected level of hotel employment. The only contractual requirement is that hotel construction must commence within five years from the date of the agreement and be completed within seven years. However, and this is most significant, if the hotel is not built, there would be absolutely no reduction whatsoever in the $180 million of tax exemption benefits Innovative gets."
Among other things, Berry expressed concern that under the agreement, ICC could acquire other businesses in addition to those it now owns, and operate them without paying "a cent" in taxes.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.


Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more