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Companies address money owed CLTC

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - Following the release of a list of companies the Chamorro Land Trust Commission says are delinquent in commercial lease payments. One senator says it's about time the agency goes after collections and one company disputes the amount CLTC says is owed.

Efforts by a new administration at the Chamorro Land Trust Commission to collect on overdue payments for commercial leases is being applauded by agency oversight committee chair Senator Ben Pangelinan. He said, "This is something we discussed early with the new director and he is acting on it pretty quickly and we are very pleased with these actions."

CLTC administrator Monte Mafnas released a list of seven companies that he says combined owes the Commission over $1.5 million dollars. But not all of the companies agree on the amount the CLTC claims is owed. Guam International Country Club, for instance, says they made a lump sum payment in September and owe $135,000 - not the $225,000 for rent the CLTC is claiming. 

"When I spoke to the staff they said they are not caught up to reconcile their books with our payments so there is a discrepancy there," said GICC operations manager Kelvin Torres. He does admit they are behind on payments, but says they are working to correct that. "We are pretty much religiously continue paying our $19,000 every month lease and I told them we will try our best to catch up on the arrear," he added.

Torres attempts to explain how they got so far behind in payments in the first place, telling KUAM News it seems to be "mismanagement on the part of the past administration of GICC."

IBC Marianas another company on Mafnas' list claims they performed services for the CLTC in lieu of monthly payments. Mafnas concedes the company did provide in-kind services but says they still owe the Commission over half a million dollars. In an e-mail from IBC Marianas the company states they are waiting direction to perform additional clearing and road developments.

However, lease payments aren't the only issue Mafnas is dealing with he is also attempting to collect on unpaid real estate taxes something that has Senator Pangelinan's full support. "This is something that over the last couple of years we have been asking the CLTC and their directors to put into plays that on that, on these leases, that these lessees are responsible for paying real estate taxes," the policymaker said.

But the amount of these taxes, at least for GICC, is another area of contention. According to the CLTC, the company owes $185,000 in back taxes, but Torres says they made a surprising discovery when went to the Department of Revenue & Taxation to verify the amount. He explained, "When they did an assessment they found out the previous owner has not paid taxes since 1989 and it was kind of like really shocked because Japan Golf management bought GICC in 2007."

Torres says the company's lawyers are trying to determine if they are responsible for paying all of the back taxes. However he is quick to point out the company does plan to make good on the over due taxes if it is discovered GICC is responsible for the full amount. While Mafnas works to collect on lease payments and back taxes, Pangelinan is working to ensure these types of arrears are not incurred in the future.

He says he plans to hold a hearing on the rules and regulations for commercial leases with the CLTC in the next couple of months, and says there are measures that can be put in place to guarantee the future of the CLTC leases does not mirror the past.

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