Port Authority Says Fees Raised After Non-payment by Barge Companies

The V.I. Port Authority (VIPA) raised vehicle and cargo transportation fees last week and then immediately lowered the fees following an initial negative response from St. John residents.

VIPA Executive Director Darlan Brin took a poll vote of the board in order to reduce the fees soon after they were raised, according to VIPA spokesperson Carol Henneman.

“If the fees are going down, the board doesn’t have to meet,” Henneman said. “Had there been increases, there would have been discussions about it. Nobody complains about decreases.”

The fees were reduced partly because of the negative reaction of St. John residents to the increase, according to the VIPA spokesperson.

“It was a combination of things,” said Henneman. “When you do things on paper it’s one thing, and when you have to live it, it’s another.”

The Port Authority is sensitive to people’s concerns, she added.

“The Port Authority is not insensitive,” said Henneman. “If people respond in a less than positive way, we want to accommodate as much as we could. We don’t want to have a hostile working environment with the people of St. John.”

In addition to raising the fees, VIPA hired employees to collect the money.

Collected Fees Not Paid to VIPA
Fees were previously collected by the barge companies, who were not giving the money to VIPA, according to VIPA spokesperson Carol Henneman.

Henneman did not have information on how much in fees is owed by each barge company, although one company owes $50,000, she acknowledged.

“Everybody doesn’t owe on the same level,” said Henneman. “Some are more delinquent than others.”

VIPA will not immediately go after the money it is owed by the barge companies, according to the VIPA spokesperson.

“The first step was for us to stop the bleeding,” said Henneman. “Then, after that, I guess we’ll decide how we’re going to go about getting the money. Some of the figures are quite high.”