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Wednesday, July 24, 2024


July 12, 2003 – At a town hall meeting at Holiday Inn Windward Passage, members of the community came out to voice their opinions on Bill No. 25-0040, which would allow the government to borrow $235 million in bonds.
The money would be used for general expenses, including $100 million to finance working capital, $20 million to finance private economic development initiatives on St. Croix, $10 million to provide credit enhancement for financing the Carifest Theme Park on St. Thomas and $80 million to develop a 250-room resort on St. Croix. The rest of the money would pay any necessary reserves and pay the cost of issuance of the bond and the loan note.
The town hall meeting was attended by about 50 people and was broadcast live by Radio One.
Freshmen Sen. Louis Hill, Sen. Ronald Russell and Sen. Luther Renee, along with long-time Sen. Lorraine Berry, listened as leaders of civic organizations, clergy, business owners and private citizens gave their views of the bill.
"That's a bandage," said Neil Weiss, owner of Nisky Center and Vitraco Mall. "What are you going to do next year?"
Weiss said that people borrow money to start businesses: "The thing is you have to be able to pay the money back."
He proposed a prosperity tax on gasoline. "Are you ready to give up $2 a week to make this government solvent?" Wiess asked.
Stephanie Scott-Williams had her own views on the subject. "We need to have a plan put together, and we need to have people involved in this plan," she said. "If we continue to elect the abusers, then we deserve it."
Although many people were against the bill, some believe it might be necessary. George Phillips, pastor of the St. Thomas-St. John Fellowship of Ministers, said, "We don't believe that borrowing is the answer, but will regard it as a last resort."
Phillips warned the government to be careful. He said, remember the borrower is servant to the lender.
Presenters made their recommendations in lieu of the bill being blocked in the Rules Committee that same day. Berry, Hill and Russell voted against the bill, while Sen. Douglas Canton Jr., Sen. Roosevelt David and Sen. David Jones voted for the bill.
Hill explained that when the date for the town hall meeting was set, there was no Rules Committee session planned for the same day. "I think the discussion is still relevant," Hill said.

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