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Property Evaluation Equality

Dear Source:
In spite of the many hearing and discussions by various branches of the government there has not been any serious review of the important issues relative to Real Estate Taxes and the effects on VI residents.
1. The average residential property on St. John is valued at approximately twice the equivalent property on St. Thomas and 3 to 4 times the evaluation on St. Croix.
2. The evaluation was done at the very peak of market value of real estate on St. John and actual market values have dropped considerably since then. Property values on St. Thomas (including Water Island) have not dropped nearly as much and property values on St. Croix have not gone down and may in fact be still rising.
3. The Island of St. John receives far less return for tax dollar contributed to the VI Government in jobs, services (such as education, recreation, medical facilities etc) and capitol improvements than either St. Thomas or St. Croix.
This can create a situation were St. John residents are in a position of paying two to four times as much taxes for an equivalent home compared to other residents of the Virgin Islands and at the same time receiving far less in return per dollar paid in taxes.
Because of the lack of infrastructure St. John is far more expensive to live on than either St. Thomas or St. Croix and the Territory Government has never taken any positive action to address this problem.
There are many ways to begin to eliminate the unequalness of this situation. One way would be to include in the real estate tax system a substantial tax credit for residents, such as 50% reduction in evaluation for residents. This combined with a factor to balance the average evaluation of each island such as a multiplier of 1.0 for St. Croix, 0.5 for St. Thomas and 0.3 for St. John would create a real estate tax system that is fair and equitable to all residents of the Virgin Islands.
To address the problem of unequal services provided by the Government it is not difficult to determine the percentage of real estate tax dollars paid by each island. An equivalent percentage of government money spent on; jobs, services and capitol improvements should be allocated for each island.

Greg Miller
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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