Lawmakers meet with governor over CoreTech purchase - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Lawmakers meet with governor over CoreTech purchase

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - It was closed door meeting yesterday as several of the island's lawmakers met with Governor Eddie Calvo to get more information on the CoreTech purchase in Tiyan.

A revised CoreTech purchase agreement may have been signed and plans to open a central high school underway, but is it too late to back out now?

At the request of committee chair on education Speaker Judi Won Pat, Governor Calvo met with senators Thursday morning in a closed door meeting to address their questions and concerns.

Interestingly enough, Calvo's spokesperson Troy Torres says senators already knew the answers.

"What we found was ironic was that many of the senators in the room knew exactly about the Tiyan issue because they were the one who initiated it and saw it and saw it through to almost the very end," he said.

Torres says with John F. Kennedy High School returned to their Upper Tumon school, GovGuam had no use for the Tiyan facility, which Calvo hoped to end ties with. That is, until lawmakers stepped in back in 2011.

"Within the 120 day period, the legislature snuck in a rider into the Public Law 31-76 that authorized the governor to go to the bond market for tax refunds. Remember that was a very important piece of legislation to the governor. We believe that they did this because they knew that the governor would not veto the bill just because of that provision even though the governor at that time wanted to terminate the lease with CoreTech," he said.

The rider that made it into the tax refund law defined the Tiyan lease as the contract between CoreTech and GovGuam, and, for the first time ever, Torres says codified CoreTech by recognizing the lease-to-purchase option, that tax credits could be used for an educational facility, and that these credits could only be used as payment for CoreTech.

Immediately after, Torres says Untalan Middle School was in need of interim campus with their facilities shut down by Public Health. Because of this, GovGuam negotiated an amendment to the lease to purchase option and removed the termination clause because CoreTech's investment in collateral equipment for the school.

"A few months later, the legislature made another amendment, another rider into a bill that they knew we wanted passed, and this was the rider that named the actual three lots that were purchased and that didn't come from us," he said.

Included in the specified lots was the Guam International Airport Authority property being leased rent-free to CoreTech as part of a land exchange agreement.

Torres speculates this could've been the loop hole for legislators who sidestepped the competitive bidding process and the general services agency as the procurement authority.

"If there's any sweetheart deal that happened here, I think you need to look at the riders here and the authorization of the lots and the naming of the company," he said.

As for what's next? Torres says they're looking for other means to fund the purchase to keep from financing it full term - should GovGuam stretch the payments, the cost of Tiyan with insurance and maintenance totals $160 million.

Meanwhile, the central high school is anticipated to open doors starting School Year 2014-2015.

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