Don't bet V.I.'s future on casinos
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I am not a government employee, but I am a member of the community and consequently, I cannot avoid hearing that the Government Employee Retirement System is in trouble.
GERS now owns Carambola Beach Resort. My understanding is that GERS issued a loan to the previous owners of the hotel and they either defaulted or reneged.
This letter will be short so I will not comment on how I feel about GERS lending or collateralizing government retirees' investment funds as investment loans. The retirees need to think about this and voice their opinion. In any case, the worst occurred: GERS is an hotelier.
Not only are government retirees involuntary hoteliers, they may be on the verge of becoming involuntary casino owners. Since I am not a government employee or a retiree, I will refrain from commenting on that pursuit as well.
I believe Government employees should follow the development of the Carambola Beach Hotel closely in order to keep informed about their retirement investment.
I am a taxpayer who wants to see our community improve. So please consider the following: While reviewing areas of funding for historic district property rehabilitation, I discovered that the Historic Preservation Office has no funds to aid with rehabilitation. My understanding is that casinos are to deposit one percent of profit to a fund so the HPO can issue rehabilitation grants to property owners in historic districts.
If I comprehend the explanation I received about the law correctly, I must assume that the Divi Carina Bay Casino is not profitable since HPO has no grants available.
If one casino is not profitable, why do we continue to discuss licensing more of them?
With the dilapidated state of our economy, jobs cannot be the only consideration with new business ventures, especially those with Economic Development Commission benefits. Crucians and St. Thomians, unless you want a place to spend more local dollars with nothing in return, think carefully before considering another casino for the islands. They do not seem to have to pay taxes or contribute to our economic and social rehabilitation.
Remember, you lose your money. Someone else wins your money. Neither the economy nor the community gains anything. No "new" money enters the economy; in fact, the winner may spend the money off-island. No taxes are collected from the casino, and the winners' gambling taxes may be minimal. Therefore, only the "little man" is paying taxes in our casino scenario. There is no substantial benefit for the community as a whole. Someone, please correct me if I am wrong.
But, if I am not wrong, please, let us all consider what we promote for economic improvement more carefully. Our futures are at stake.
- LeVelle T. Henry, St. Croix