Concerns noted about USDA loan/grant - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Concerns noted about USDA loan/grant

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by Janjeera Hail

Guam - A quarterly status report hearing was held at the District Court this morning.  And while the federal receiver had good news to report, the lack of confidence in the USDA loan/grant raised some red flags.

Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood heard a presentation from Gershman, Brickner & Bratton reps at this morning's quarterly status hearing.  The presentation highlighted several points. GBB Principal David Manning noted the success the receiver's seen in the execution of its new trash cart rollout program.

"The demand has been so strong that we've actually had to order more carts and those carts will be delivered in a few days and by the end of February/early March; we expect to have all those customers in the system, in a completely new system that they will find very helpful to themselves, I think," he said.

Once registration is complete and all the new trash carts are delivered, GBB will begin to phase in its new payment plan.  Trash pickup service is currently $10 a month, but residents will see that rise to $17 in the first phase, $24 6 months after that, and finally to $30 a month in the final phase.

GBB also discussed progress on the Layon landfill, which is scheduled to be ready in 500 days, 59 days before the scheduled closing date of the Ordot Dump.  Said Manning, "We have awarded contracts to CoreTech for the access road and utilities and they've been given a notice to proceed and we've awarded a contract to Black Construction for the landfill buildings and the liners and all the systems that actually make up the landfill and they've now been given a notice to proceed, as well."

But it wasn't all rosy. When it came to financing issues, there was less than stellar confidence in the future of the USDA loan/grant. Lawmakers are counting on the loan/grant, so that the funds that are currently appropriated for the landfill can be freed up to pay government debts and go towards public improvement projects.  But one of the provisions of the loan is that all the materials used in the building of the landfill be of U.S. origin, and Governor Felix Camacho says that because of the construction that's already taken place, it'll be impossible to comply.

"But much work has already been completed by previous contractors. Say, for example, the cement or rebar or asphalt may not be of origin from the United States, and they're already in there," explained the governor.  "So as governor, I'm writing a letter seeking exemption of this requirement by USDA for the loan to be granted."

While this mornings hearing shed light on the great strides that GBB's making to improve solid waste management, it also revealed the serious issues surrounding financing - concerns that stretch well beyond the future of the landfill.

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