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With new members on board, it's time for change at WICO

WICO is installing new board members today — and the big question is: How big will their paychecks be for that one meeting?

Unlike every other V.I. government board, the eight WICO board members traditionally have been paid $1,500 each for every time they sit down at a meeting, and the chairman has been paid $2,000.

Even if they meet only once a month, that’s $18,000 a year for each board member and $24,000 for the chairman. It adds up to $168,000 a year.

By comparison, the V.I. Port Authority board members get $75 a meeting, the WAPA board members get $50 a meeting and the UVI board members get zero.

So why does the WICO board get so much more? The only answer they’ve come up with is: “That’s how it’s always been done.”

That, of course is the wrong answer. Longevity is not an acceptable substitute for logic. Just because you’ve done something the wrong way for a long time is no excuse for continuing to do it that way.

The money the WICO board members take home might be a little more acceptable if their policies and decisions were bringing home more of what the V.I. economy needs: Revenue from cruise ship calls at the WICO dock and from those ships’ passengers’ spending on shore.

But that’s not what the WICO board has done.

The WICO board has allowed the competition to get ahead. We’re no longer the No. 1 preferred destination, and now other islands, such as St. Maarten, are getting more of the tourists’ love and money.

The WICO board has failed to act pro-actively as the number of ship calls sharply declined. While the members were sitting in their $14,000 meetings during the 2017-18 season, St. Maarten was busy welcoming 207 Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ships. How many came to the WICO dock? Only 118.

Making matters worse, the WICO board flubbed a chance to turn things around when it failed to go forward with construction of a mega-ship dock that would have added millions in revenue and boosted many businesses.

Even if that project gets back on track, it may be too late to regain our status and overcome what we’ve lost to the competition.

When did failure become worth $14,000 a meeting? Never.

Now the WICO board, reconstituted with some new members, can prove it is capable of success — beginning with reducing members’ pay to the same $75 per meeting the Port Authority board members receive.