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Congress should take action

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jay
 jay
(@jay)
Advanced Member

Once again, WAPA has seen its way to another price increase. I do not doubt they need the money to operate. The problem is that WAPA is an outdated system that is owned by the government, which uses its position to avoid paying its electric bills.
The government also uses the company to reward friends and political allies, with good paying jobs.
The unpaid government electric bills, are in excess of $20,000,000.00 and the VI government has no intention of paying. Its much easier to allow WAPA to raise your rates and mine, to help offset the unpaid bills.
I believe it may be time for the United States Congress to step in and insist on the sale of WAPA to a power company with the expertise to run such an entity........Or perhaps a college economics class who will discover on day one, that oil is not the most efficient way to power a plant, nor has it been for a very long time. Here, I do not have much of a pulpit to get my message out, but hope those who do, will use it to get congress's attention and have them come take a closer look at what a sham this whole thing is. Perhaps one of the local talk shows (c'mon Roger, it will help the ratings:) ) will get in the game.
I can afford the rates, that's not the issue that is most troubling to me. Most troubling to me is that the government expects the poor and elderly on fixed incomes to pay their electric bills, but doesn't bother to pay its own.
Our local Senators love to talk a big game about how its wrong to raise the price, how about even one, taking some action and move for the sale of WAPA.

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Topic starter Posted : June 11, 2008 3:05 pm
chockman
(@chockman)
Trusted Member

I had thought of relocating to St Croix, and in fact monitor this board everyday. I can deal with operating cost of a small Bar / restaurant, price increases on food and beverages and even deal with and handle the local mentality of, things do not get done very fast. All things are normally manageable, But if " WAPA " can run " IHOP " out of business with nothing more than high rate utility bills on St Thomas, I would not even stand a chance. So until things settle down out there, I guess the Wife and I will just have to keep visiting.

Good day to all of you, I envy your location, see you in 09.

Chris.

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Posted : June 11, 2008 4:25 pm
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

You know, I have to question that WAPA ran IHOP out of business. First of all, franchise fees are usually expensive, they did MAJOR renovations to the location at the mall. Mall rent is high. They were open 24 hours, which means probably at least 5 or 6 employees and no customers for long periods. One would expect a business person(s) to have done some research. WAPA bills were already some of the highest in the country before IHOP opened, the price of oil was already going sky high before IHOP opened, the VI gov. already owed WAPA millions and millions before IHOP opened. We have been crying the WAPA Blues for a long time and expected to get hit with higher rates.

I do not know that what I am about to say is true. It is just my own speculation.

I never did think they would succeed. Like a lot of business owners, particularly restaurants, they probably spent way too much money getting started and didn't have the necessary back-up to weather the first year. The first year is always the toughest. Maybe WAPA was the icing on the cake, but I doubt you can blame the whole closing on them.

We see businesses start and close here just like we see people move here and move away. Usually the businesses are on a smaller scale, and not a known franchise.

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Posted : June 11, 2008 5:26 pm
chockman
(@chockman)
Trusted Member

Juanita, Just punch in IHOP, here on this board, The St Thomians stated that it was always busy and that they do in fact own other businesses on the Island.
You may be correct in your assessment of the situation, but all of the info I have comes from this board, the person stated that they could no longer afford to pay their utility bills. They were regular customers from the time it opened to the time it closed.
Best wishes to you all, as I said earlier, we will see you next year.

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Posted : June 11, 2008 6:39 pm
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

Like I said, it was speculation on my part, but you see it over and over again. Also, just because they were busy, doesn't mean they were successful, even without a WAPA increase. My point was they should have seen it coming, especially if they are already business owners on island. They must have laid out a TON of money getting that place open. I don't know who owns it or if their other businesses are successful. We probably shouldn't start kicking around peoples' names on here, but it would be interesting to know. Anyway, I'm sorry they're gone. I live on STX now, but I was on STT when they opened and I still go back to visit. I only ate there once. It was just like IHOP in the states.

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Posted : June 11, 2008 7:26 pm
chockman
(@chockman)
Trusted Member

Juanita, while I have your attention. What is going on at the Full Moon Beach bar, these days ?

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Posted : June 11, 2008 7:29 pm
Linda J
(@Linda_J)
Expert

MOST restaurants do not survive the first year or two. That's a fact country wide.

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Posted : June 11, 2008 7:29 pm
beachy
(@beachy)
Trusted Member

I believe the newspapers article said their rent was $13,000 a month--that's alot of pancakes you've got to sell.

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Posted : June 11, 2008 8:03 pm
Jim Dandy
(@jim_dandy)
Trusted Member

Why does everyone think that if the VI Government paid its electric bills all of WAPA's problems would be solved? If the government were to pay its bills then they probably would have to raise taxes. If they raise income taxes only residents of the VI would pay the increase. All the snowbirds, illegals, non residents, etc. wouldn't pay a dime. At least with electric rates everyone who lives here and uses electricity has to pay. Many businesses wouldn't have to pay the additional taxes as they are EDC an tax exempt. Another option of course would be for the government to cut other programs, but do you think this government could really do it?

If they raised the money to pay utility bills by instituting a sales tax then everyone would have to pay, but we would end up with another government bureaucracy to collect the sales tax revenue. Some Senator's brother in law who got the big job at the agency would be happy, but not many other people would be because sales taxes are regressive and would have a negative impact on the islands many poor.

It would be good PR for the government to pay its bills, but economically no one has convinced me that it makes any difference.

Jim

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Posted : June 11, 2008 9:19 pm
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

chockman, I think Full Moon is in "full" swing. I don't go there too much, because I HATE jazz, and they seem to have jazz music a lot. There were doing country music every other Sunday, but we can't seem to get on their schedule. They always have some all you can eat special, which brings in a crowd, I'm sure, especially shrimp on Fridays. Whenever we do go, they seem to be busy.

Alix, are you listening? Give us your music and menu schedule.

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Posted : June 11, 2008 10:59 pm
dntw8up
(@dntw8up)
Trusted Member

Jim,

Residents are suggesting that the government pay its WAPA bill because taxpayers have already paid the government the money it should have used to pay its WAPA bill. Instead of paying WAPA our government officials used our tax dollars to line their pockets and now they're claiming there isn't any money left to pay WAPA. WAPA passes the government's deficit on by raising its rates, and taxpayers continue to pay for their personal and government electrical service, and taxpayer funds that should be going to WAPA continue to line corrupt politicians' pockets. Perhaps local government employees should be audited by the U.S. Government (people with no connection to the VI) and any funds in their personal accounts that can't be adequately explained should be seized and sent to WAPA.

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Posted : June 12, 2008 12:34 am
Linda J
(@Linda_J)
Expert

The last thing the USVI needs is congress's attention.

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Posted : June 12, 2008 2:01 am
dntw8up
(@dntw8up)
Trusted Member

I disagree. I'm a Libertarian and I strongly believe that the government that governs best governs least. However, we have a bloated VI government and as it is one of the few stable employers in the territory, I foresee us stuck with this behemoth. But we are not required to accept corruption within our government. Reducing the corruption within the Vi government can only happen with help from people who do not have friends and family within the VI government. I think attention from the U.S. government would be painful in the short run but would ultimately improve our quality of life.

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Posted : June 12, 2008 2:38 am
Trade
(@Trade)
Expert

I'll weigh in on the IHOP portion. I was delighted to see them open. I wasn't sad or surprised to see them go. This is only MY experience, but the last 3 times I went there, the service was terrible & the food was inedible. Their hash browns which I loved were, on the last 3 occasions tasting like they were fried in rancid grease. I was there at breakfast & also lunch time & I don't think the place was more than 1/4 full every time I was there. Maybe it was just coincidental but the last time I was there I swore I'd never go there again.

As for WAPA, I think the office to contact would be the Department of the Interior. They oversee the territories. One thing I would be willing to stake my life on is that the government probably doesn't set their A/C any higher or turn off lights in unused offices or do any of the things the rest of us who DO pay our bills. Why should they? Their power won't get shut down.

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Posted : June 12, 2008 3:17 am
Trade
(@Trade)
Expert

Oh, and Delly Deck is booming. I can't imagine their rent is low since it's in Havensight & they sure have the same WAPA rates Ihop has.

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Posted : June 12, 2008 3:21 am
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

Okay, I never went to IHOP. I believe that on of the biggest problems in the restaurant business is employee theft. Actually, I guess that is true of many, if not all, businesses.

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Posted : June 12, 2008 12:39 pm
jay
 jay
(@jay)
Advanced Member

Jim Dandy, I wasn't saying that the government would solve WAPA's (our) problem by paying its bills. What I said was......

"I can afford the rates, that's not the issue that is most troubling to me. Most troubling to me is that the government expects the poor and elderly on fixed incomes to pay their electric bills, but doesn't bother to pay its own."

And I brought up the idea that congress should step in and force the sale of the company.

I guarantee the government would pay their bills if the power company was owned by a private entity, and they cut off the power to the legislature bldg.

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Topic starter Posted : June 12, 2008 1:41 pm
Jim Dandy
(@jim_dandy)
Trusted Member

My point is regardless of how efficient or corrupt a government is the only money it has to pay its bills come from the taxpayers. If they pay their bills, then they need to tax accordingly. There is no free lunch.

There are more WAPA rate payers than VI Taxpayers so if for instance there were 50,000 electrical customers and 25,000 VI Income Taxpayers and the VI government used $10 million in electricity it would cost each electrical customer $200 if we gave the VI government free electricity vs the $400 it would cost each taxpayer.

Jim

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Posted : June 12, 2008 2:29 pm
Trade
(@Trade)
Expert

WAPA will never be privatized because it's assumed there will be jobs lost. Competent workers wouldn't be let go but as usual, the nonproductive will be protected to the detriment of us all.

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Posted : June 12, 2008 3:22 pm
jay
 jay
(@jay)
Advanced Member

And round and round we go.....back to my original statement, congress should step in and force the sale............But you would think someone would want to bring the thing up to the standards the United States had in the 1950's.

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Topic starter Posted : June 12, 2008 6:03 pm
Jim Dandy
(@jim_dandy)
Trusted Member

Perhaps we should find someone else besides Congress to fix WAPA'a problems. In today's paper there was a story/ editorial stating that they spend $14,000 per pupil in the DC schools and yet they are supposedly some of the worst schools in the USA. If Congress can't fix the schools in their front yard what make you think they can run an electric utility two thousand miles away?

Jim

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Posted : June 12, 2008 7:11 pm
MosquitoBaitt
(@MosquitoBaitt)
Advanced Member

Not sure, but didn't WAPA get huge sums of money years ago (i think after hugo?) to rebuild and/or replace the entire electrical system?

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Posted : June 12, 2008 7:58 pm
chockman
(@chockman)
Trusted Member

Very good point Jim Dandy, I work for the Federal Gov. We just changed the Wiper blades on a Dodge mini van, it took them about 5 minutes. Cost total for the job $77.00 dollars. I would have been more than glad to stop at a parts store for them and put them on Myself, Hell I would not of even charged them overtime for the job, But at last the sad fact is that I would of been in trouble for doing someone Else's job. You have to admire the, help the small business mentality. But my God, the money that gets wasted around here.

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Posted : June 12, 2008 8:01 pm
Trade
(@Trade)
Expert

They wouldn't interfere anyway because people like Adelbert Bryan would start squawking about colonialism & that makes that type of interference from the Federal government a real hot potato. Of course, nobody seems to mind a little colonialism if the Feds want to send some money down.

Wonder if some sort of class action lawsuit would do anything?

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Posted : June 13, 2008 1:52 am
jay
 jay
(@jay)
Advanced Member

Again, I never said anything about Congress running WAPA. I said they should step in and force the sale because it is being driven into the ground by bureaucrats. The Colonialism thing is true, people would start squawking, but the federal government has a very good way of getting local governments to comply, withholding funds.

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Topic starter Posted : June 13, 2008 11:32 am
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