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Bice addresses Rotary Club

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - Joint Guam Program Office's David Bice is continuing his presentations to the public on the buildup, including meeting today with island Rotarians.  The executive director of JGPO told those in attendance $50 million is being transferred to the U.S. Department of Transportation for modernization of the Port.

USDA will kick in additional $54 million, he says. Additionally, the DoD will transfer $110 million in the coming weeks to upgrade highways on Guam. Bice say with the nearly $500 million recently transferred from Japan, combined with funding from Congress, $1.3 billion is ready to be awarded to a select number of contracts on Guam immediately after the Record of Decision is signed, which is expected to happen on the 20th in Washington.

He said infrastructure projects for the Port, roads and utilities will be the first priority. Bice says the Civilian Military Coordination Council must also be in place before construction begins. Bice fielded questions from members, telling them studies were being conducted on upgrades for fuel pipelines. He was also asked about requirements for companies who are awarded contracts on Guam to obtain local business licenses.

"Anyone who does business here has to have a business license and they have to produce that business license before they can start work on any sot of project that business permit has, among other organizations, a Rev & Tax stamp on it," he said.  

This is a signal, says Bice, to ensure taxes are paid by these companies. He says any one failing to do so would be committing a crime. As for housing for the 8,600 U.S. Marines, he told members while he is sure some will look for housing off-base, the U.S. Government has committed $2.5 billion for 2,700 units of housing behind the fence.

Aside from meeting with island Rotarians, Bice,  met with Senators Eddie Baza Calvo and Ray Tenorio this morning.  According to Calvo, he gave assurances that local ratepayers will not be left footing the bill for capital improvements to infrastructure needed because of the buildup, "This is a major concern that was brought up over the buildup, so I'm happy the federal government is addressing it," Calvo said.  "I've been clear all along, this buildup must benefit Guam.  That means our people should not have to pay for these infrastructure improvements," he added.

Other issues brought up during the meeting included plans to use Pagat as a firing range and potential revenue to Guam being lost due to local tax laws not being followed, "The military must live within their footprint.  Any effort to expand it beyond what they currently have will be opposed by Ray and I.  The amount of land they have is more than enough to accommodate their mission," Calvo stated.  "It's also important for off-island companies to pay their fair share of taxes to Guam," he added.

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