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Thursday, August 11, 2022


The League of Women voters Thursday asked Gov. Charles W. Turnbull to veto the so-called "Prosser bill," saying "this bill seems designed to circumvent the established processes and agencies for the granting" of tax benefits.
In a five-page letter to the governor, league President Erva Denham pointed to inconsistencies, legal pitfalls and broad areas of ambiguity in the bill as the reason.
Specifically where the bill calls for a zoning variance, Denham said trying to create a variance by contractual agreement is unlawful. "If the land is to be rezoned, it must be done through public hearings conducted by the planning office and the Legislature."
The league echoed concerns expressed by V.I. Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt about the open-ended nature of the bill, specifically the tax benefits and the ability for Prosser's Innovative Communications Corp. to acquire other entities under the tax-free ICC umbrella. (See IG: VI could be big loser in Prosser deal.) Referring to the tax benefits Prosser's companies would receive, Denham called them open-ended.
"The League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands strongly opposes tax benefits for any entity and/or its subsidiaries of this magnitude or duration," she said.
She said the issue of other companies being acquired made it possible for "each entity to take advantage of unlimited tax exemptions, placing all other competitors at an unfair advantage."
A lot of the questions posed by the league also involved the location and maintenance of the public projects to be built under the terms of the bill. The league cited the baseball complex as an example, saying the government stands to gain nothing from the complex for 30 years. In the meantime, Denham questioned, "Who will be paying for the water and power used" at the complex and where will it be?
Under the bill 1,000 acres that were set aside under an easement agreement for "scenic preservation" would be rezoned, leaving only 525 acres for that purpose.
"Are these 525 contiguous acres or is it the intent to have numerous small plots that will remain as little ‘green spaces'?" the league questioned.
Turnbull has until Friday, June 4, to decide what he wants to do, sign, veto or ignore it, thereby letting the bill automatically become law.

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