Mayors shed light on safety concerns in villages - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Mayors shed light on safety concerns in villages

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - From burglaries to robberies and rape, we've reported it all. And with the rise in crime in the last few weeks, mayors are speaking up on the need for better lighting in the villages.

The island's mayors are hoping to shed some light on a growing concern islandwide.

"The mayors are all concerned about the safety of the kids and the residents," said voce mayor Kenneth Santos.

With a 24-year-old female raped by four men while another held her down just behind the Dededo Mayor's Office early Monday morning, leaders like Santos, from Tamuning, admit that although main roads may be properly lit, residential areas aren't. This must be addressed not only for the students who walk to their bus stops before the sun comes up and for joggers getting in their morning run, but also for the residents who more and more, are reporting crimes from their homes.

"We've had some incidence where some houses were being robbed and people couldn't tell who was there because it was too dark. That's where they would normally hit - it's the dark places," he added. "They've complained that their cars have been vandalized, their house has been vandalized, and when they look out the window, all they see are figures running away and they can't see who it is."

Mayors today agreed - the process of getting a new streetlight installed, relocated, or turned back on often leads to a dead end. "I just want them to know what can I tell them because I don't want them to think that we're not trying to do our job to help," he said.

But why are residents left in the dark? Department of Public Works director Carl Dominguez says funding is limited to what comes from the street light fund when you register your vehicle and the Guam highway funds from when you gas your vehicle. Overall, the streetlight budget is only enough for existing inventory.

He said, "The last two to three years, its been about $6.5 million to $7 million and so that's all that's appropriated and that's on average. That's the GPA bills."

With no funding for additional streetlights, Guam Power Authority general manager Joaquin Flores says bill 227 could be the light at the end of the tunnel. "We propose a solution that can help solve some of the concerns of the mayors. It's embedded in Bill 227 and it's probably going to be merged with Senator Tina Muna Barnes' Bill 207 and hopefully by February we can have a creation of a special purpose entity that can go out in the bond market and get a loan or basically issue bonds at the very cheapest rate that we can possibly get that can benefit everybody."

The bill would allow for the replacement of the island's entire streetlight inventory with more efficient, LED lights. In total, Flores says that's 15,000 lights at a price tag of $15 million with the savings to be used to pay down the debt over a period of time.

Bill 227 already went through public hearing and sits with the committee where Flores hopes lawmakers will address the bill as early as session in February.

If you're willing to front the costs for a street light as a private customer, you may do so with the Guam Power Authority where they will try to expedite the installation of one.

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