Meeting Set for Oct. 28 on Love City’s High Property Tax Bills

V.I. Tax Assessor Ira Mills personally came out to meet with St. John taxpayers on Saturday morning October 11 at the Julius E. Sprauve School in Cruz Bay without the typical bureaucratic entourage to shield him from hoards of protesting property owners or any trepidation. Instead, the unassuming government official at the center of the maelstrom enveloping the new property evaluations and tax bills met with a dozen residents to explain what exemptions are available to reduce individual property tax bills – even if they have already paid a higher amount to receive the early payment discount.


CRUZ BAY — The Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, Senator at Large Craig Barshinger, along with Senator Myron Jackson, will conduct a meeting in the St. John Legislative Annex on Tuesday, October 28th.

“The property tax problem seems to be most severe on St. John. In fact, on St. Thomas and St. Croix, some property taxes have gone down since the last valid assessment in 1998,” Barshinger noted. “Act 6991 may have to be changed”

I encourage you to come to the meeting, bringing your story and any solutions that you recommend,” said Barshinger.
“We want to hear from you.”

V.I. Tax Assessor Ira Mills came to St. John on Saturday morning October 11, to face St. John taxpayers at the Julius E. Sprauve School and answer many questions.

But for the small group who came seeking relief, there was no immediate remedy, according to St. John Senator at Large Craig Barshinger, who has detailed steps for property owners to take if they are troubled by their property tax bills.

“If your bill shows a market value that is incorrect, go to the Tax Assessors Office and file an informal appeal,” Sen. Barshinger told constituents. “The Tax Assessor will re-evaluate your property and try to arrive at the true market value. That is, the amount your property would have sold for in 2013, had you put it on the market.“

If the informal appeal process does not work, property owners can file a formal appeal by December 15, the St. John senator added.
If an individual’s property tax is unaffordable and the market value is accurate, legislation will be necessary to bring relief, according to Sen. Barshinger.

“The Legislature does not want our residents to be forced from their homes by property taxes that rise much more quickly than inflation,” the outgoing senator added. “Yet, this is exactly what will happen if we follow Act 6991.”

Under Act 6991 property tax is calculated by multiplying the property value by the millage rate (there are millage rates corresponding to three different classes of property), then dividing by 1000. That is the raw tax. Then the property owner subtracts any exemptions that he or she is eligible for, such as homestead and veteran exemptions.

“This method offers inadequate relief for tax payers whose homes soared in market value due to large homes or hotels being built nearby.
“Act 6991 may have to be changed,” Sen. Barshinger admitted. “The problem seems to be most severe on St. John.”

“In fact, on St. Thomas and St. Croix, some property taxes have gone down since the last valid assessment in 1998,” the senator acknowledged.
“Amending our property tax laws in this time of crisis is likely to be difficult,” Sen. Barshinger admitted. “The problems seem to be primarily on St. John. Therefore, we must stand together as St. Johnians in support of legislation that brings equity to all property owners in the Territory.”

“If we are divided on St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix will walk away from the issue and St. John will be stuck with Act 6991,” Sen. Barshinger warned.