A proposed law in the U.S. Virgin Islands legislature related to roadside signage may have a significant impact on local businesses if adopted by the 30th Legislature.

billboardCurrently, the yearly cost for posting business signs and roadside billboards is $10 per year, but the new law could increase that amount to $200. More specifically, the proposed permit fee would increase to $100 paid every six months instead of the current $10 annual payment. In all, this would represent the first increase since 1968.

The Legislature is considering this action as it would raise some much-needed revenue for the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands. It would also reduce the number of roadside advertisements, which some have complained take away from the natural beauty of our islands.

There are many local businesses that would be impacted by increased fees, however, and critics argue that it would jeopardize business owners’ ability to draw in customers. Given the current sluggish economy, it could also prevent some companies from being able to afford the higher fees, thereby greatly reducing their ability to market themselves — especially to tourists unfamiliar with local businesses. A $10 per year fee raised to $200 is a substantial increase, and one that’s likely to impact smaller businesses more than large ones.

To be sure, larger businesses can afford to pay more for marketing and tend to have a diverse strategy for advertising themselves. Smaller businesses, on the other hand, may not be able to find it in their meager marketing budgets to pay the signage fees. This, in turn, would impact their ability to attract new customers and potentially put them at risk of going out of business. Proponents of the measure claim it will help clean up the area from cluttered advertisements, but the side effect could be undue hardships on local companies.

If you own a small business in the U.S. Virgin Islands, this proposed law may impact you, and it is important to pay attention to what’s happening in our Legislature — whether you’re for or against it. For further guidance on this and other issues, speak with an experienced business law attorney.

BoltNagi is a widely respected and well-established business and corporate law firm serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.