CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) _ Three St. Croix garbage hauling companies stopped service Tuesday, saying the government owes them more than $2 million in overdue payments.

Bates Trucking and Trash Removal, Dan's Trucking and Trash Removal and Fergutrax Heavy Equipment say some of the bills go back to 1995.

``The government knew all about this for a long time,'' said James Bates, owner of Bates' Trucking. ``Our employees come to work every day. We have to pay them. We have equipment, vendors to pay.''

The haulers say Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II offered Monday to pay them $503,000, about two months of overdue payments, a plan they rejected.

James' office did not return calls for comment.

James is acting governor while Gov. Charles Turnbull is in Washington through Thursday to discuss the territory's financial crisis with federal officials.

The U.S. Virgin Islands government holds more than $1 billion in debt, $51.7 million of which is owed to vendors.