February 18, 2005 - #38
This year's Mardi Gras celebrations were great fun! The sun shone brightly on the chidren's Carnival pararde on Friday afternoon, February 4, but this year it was only the students from the schools in Colombier and Lorient that took place in this parade through the streets of town to Shell Beach where they were served a snack in tents that awaited them. On Tuesday, February 8, hundreds of people took place in the main parade, with 15 floats winding their way through the streets of Gustavia and an appreciative audience cheering them on from the sidelines. The next evening, a cortege dressed in black and white walked from Le Select to Shell Beach where they burned the effigy of Vaval, the king of Carnival, with a large bonfire.
Problems with Internet connections
Those wishing to connect to the Internet in St Barth and St Martin in late January were thwarted more often than not. During a 10-day period, many people met with great dificulty when trying to connect to the Web or check their email. People whose jobs depend upon the Internet found themselves "technically unemployed," waiting impatiently while Wanadoo, the primary service provider for Saint Barth and the French West Indies, sought solutions to its network problems. A smaller competitor to Wanadoo, Dauphin Télécom, has offered attractive rates for telephone service in the Antilles for the past few years. This company promises to soon offer Internet service as well. There are many people who are waiting to see what this new company has to offer...
Raise in tax for trash collection
During the municipal council meeting on January 31, the council voted unamiously for a 10% increase in the tax for trash collection. This increase is for all private homes and businesses and will be in effect in 2005. Created on May 26, the annual trash collectin tax has been collected since 1995. It started at 500 francs
per household, and was converted to 80€ per house or apartment when the French franc was replaced by the euro. This year, each private household will be billed 88 €. Michel Geoffrin, the municipal council member in charge of this file, explained that the increase is justified by the high costs of the treatment and incineration of household and commercial trash on the island, a cost of 2,114,714€ in 2003, a cost that is far from covered by the 1,406,000 € collected through the trash tax and direct payments. In 2004, the total billed for the tax was 496,436€ (compared to 475,210€ in 2003) with a total of 4000 bills mailed out. 85% of these bills are paid without a problem, 5% were returned for bad addresses, and 3% were cancelled. According to the figures, less than 1% of the population does not pay its trash tax bill, or 495 bills were submitted for non-payment. 56.5% of these eventually paid, leaving just 250 who have not paid and who do not seem to understand that the trash service is not free. The mayor has reminded everyone that he is looking for a way to have the unpaid bills paid, by one means or another, including taking the money directly from bank accounts.
More to come