Nov. 2, 2001 — Gov. Charles Turnbull's proposal to add $10 to auto registrations to dispose of junked vehicles was tabled indefinitely Friday by the Senate Finance Committee.
Over the last two years, the Police, Public Works and Property and Procurement departments have disposed of nearly 2,000 derelict vehicles territorywide, according to Police Commissioner Franz Christian. But money is needed to continue to do so, he said.
"I envision a program that continues to add personnel and equipment," Christian told senators, adding that payroll costs would be about $100,000 a year, plus another $58,000 to buy a new tow truck.
Along with being an eyesore for a tourism-dependent territory, abandoned vehicles are a "nuisance to the community" and "a nuisance to law enforcement," Christian said. "These vehicles are also a fire hazard by the fuel being left in them."
But despite the bill's good intentions, Senate Post Auditor Maureen Rabsatt-Cullar
said it left many questions unanswered. Among other things, the bill has no comprehensive plan for disposing of the junked vehicles once they are collected, including covering costs for tire removal and used oil disposal, she said.
Christian noted that the bill still needed to identify which commissioner would actually receive the funding to carry out the program.
Still, the prevailing feeling among the senators was voiced by St. Croix Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste.
"Its tax, tax and more tax," he said. "I cannot support that."
The committee voted 5-2 to table the bill indefinitely.
In other committee action, senators discussed but didnt vote on a bill to transfer the maintenance of the territorys street lights from the Public Works Department to the V.I. Water and Power and Authority because of the absence of Public Works Commissioner Wayne Callwood.
Still, Committee Chairwoman Alicia "Chucky" Hansen offered a $2.68 million amendment to the bill to provide WAPA with $68,000 to start the task of maintaining street lights. The balance, $2 million, would be a subsidy to the utility so residents would not see a charge for the service on their WAPA bills.