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  Yves Bourel has been living in St. Barts for more than 10 years. He is an experienced journalist and has been the editor-in-chief for local newspapers. Currently, he is one of the radio announcers at Radio St. Barth for whom he covers political news and is presenting the local news once or twice a month for St. Barths Online!
  March 31, 2003 - Issue # 33
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   Municipal budget yields no surprises
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   Municipal council members voted in the new budget on March 14 for the community, the harbor and the airport. As expected, Mayor Magras did not request his council to vote in any new major community projects. Monies will be appropriated to sustain or further projects-often sizeable- that the community has already undertaken. One example is the transformation of Gustavia harbor. The municipal parking lot was already extended, but plans call for the creation of a fish market and some other tourism-related structures. The state of many of the island's roads prompted council members to allocate over one million dollars for improvement and repairs.
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   Stadium
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   The island's stadium area, located in St. Jean, should begin to transform now that monies, nearly one million dollars, have been cleared. The future sports complex, that is currently bookended by the stadium and the municipal pool is a series of undeveloped lots that will eventually become a public parking lot, an outdoor track, a public park for families ( the games, swings, etc., will be donated by island associations), an area for judo and archery, a tennis court, a multipurpose area for volleyball and basketball, and some housing facilities for visiting athletes. Though no precise dates have been given for the completion of the complex, some estimates think it will take at least three years.
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   New road to be closed ?
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   It took three years to rebuild the 220 meters of road, extending from St. Jean airport to Gustavia, that was damaged during hurricane Lenny. Only a few weeks after being opened, islanders may be deprived of their brand new road once again. No hurricane to blame this time. The locally-based private company hired to do the job has still not been paid by the department. The road was to be financed by the department, and not the local municipal budget. Though the road work was completed, the company has been paid only 50% of the road. A large sign now greets motorists exiting Gustavia via the new road. In essence, it explains that since only half of the road has been paid for, only half of it will be made available to the public. The company hopes to pressure the department into paying its debt and has given a 30-day delay before making good on its threat to shut down the road until it has been paid in full.
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   Advertising has its limits
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   In order to control the chaotic display of signs and advertising, elected officials have decided to set some limits. A newly-created set of regulations determines where commercially-based signs can and cannot appear, and also specifies billboard or sign dimensions as well as the number of promotional signs a business is allowed to post. Restaurants, hotels, and other island businesses will be given a two-year period in which to adhere to the new regulations.
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   Getting personal about garbage
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   In St. Barth, the sanitation trucks come around every day except Sundays and holidays to pick up household refuse. For this service, islanders are asked to pay less than $100 per household per year, yet certain residents, considering that the service should be free for them, have refused to pay the garbage tax. Despite initial unsuccessful attempts to recuperate the community due, island officials are now turning to stronger measures. To convince the recalcitrant, bailiffs will be sent out in the next few days. The garbage tax, a municipally levied tax, brought in 648,000 euros for the community in 2002.
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  More to come,

  Yves Bourel


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