GovGuam wants solid waste management transitioned - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GovGuam wants solid waste management transitioned

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The Government of Guam Has filed its response to concerns raised by the Guam Solid Waste Authority's board of directors. The government agrees with the issues and has asked the court to order the federal receiver to begin the transition of Solid Waste Authority management and operations.    

GovGuam is deeply troubled that despite years of representations that the consent decree projects were well within budget and the Guam Solid Waste Authority was financially healthy, this turns out not to be the case.  In the latest filing to the District Court, in response to the GSWA's board letter, Attorney Rawlen Mantanona takes issue that there isn't enough money to comply with the consent decree despite the Government of Guam obtaining bond financing of over $202 million.  Mantanona notes that the government relied on the federal receiver Gershman, Brickner & Bratton's own projects that the anticipated revenue generated from the Layon Landfill would be enough to pay 100% of the debt service of the bonds.  He argues there was no indication from the receiver that funds provided by the section 30 bonds would be insufficient to complete the consent decree projects.

He notes that up until may of last year the receiver regularly reported that the consent decree projects were over $30 million under budget. But during a May 21 hearing, the receiver disclosed that it expected the total cost of these same projects to be more than $63 million over budget.  The receiver also noted during that hearing that the government can expect to pay more than $14.2 million for post-closure environmental monitoring of the Ordot Dump - an amount that also had not been previously budgeted.

Mantanona took issue that the receiver still has not plans for dealing with the shortfall and it is now also clear that the Ordot Dump will cost tens of millions more than the receiver's estimate for that project.

Mantanona writes, "The receiver has for years been spending far more money than the GSWA can afford based on its current revenue without reporting these issues to the court."

But the issue wasn't just with a shortfall in capital funding, but also the receiver reporting that the GSWA will never be self-sufficient operationally despite being set up as an autonomous agency.  According to the receiver and the court's projections, the Guam Solid Waste Authority is expected to take over operations from the receiver in December 2015.

But the board has expressed significant concerns over the transition as it has been relegated to merely an advisory role in the operations of the GSWA.

But the government believes there has to be a full and transparent accounting of the receiver's management before any transition can occur and urged the court to approve the board's request to hire a chief financial officer and establish a payroll and accounting system that is separate from the Department of Administration.

The receiver has said it would be both costly and risky to have separate financial systems. Mantanona accuses the receiver of trying to hide the true cost of GSWA's operations. The federal government must respond to the board's letter by April 7 with the board to submit their response to the court by April 14.

The court meanwhile  moved next month's status hearing to June 25, when the receiver will have to give a report describing the progress made toward compliance with the consent decree.  The lieutenant governor, speaker and administrator of the Guam EPA were all ordered to be in attendance.

KUAM News meanwhile has learned that this may not be the first time concerns have been raised with some of the key people from Gershman, Brickner & Bratton. We are currently researching some of their key manager's histories in other parts of the countries and companies they have previously worked at.

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