Audit of solid waste operations reviewed by board - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Audit of solid waste operations reviewed by board

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It was last week when the OPA issued a financial audit on the Government of Guam's solid waste funds. And the Guam Solid Waste Authority is not only welcoming the report but is hoping it sheds a light on the challenges the board continues to face.

While it wasn't the performance audit he had hoped for, Guam Solid Waste Authority interim vice chairman Jonathan Denight welcomes the latest financial audit from the Office of Public Accountability. "I think this report is basically stating what the Guam Solid Waste Authority board has been pointing out for some time now that we're in a situation where the cost per ton to deal with the Guam solid waste problem is very, very high," he said.

As we reported, the solid waste operations for Fiscal Year 2013 closed with an increase in fund surplus and cumulative retained earnings. The OPA however indicated the current tipping rates were insufficient to pay the annual debt service on the over $200 million landfill bonds.

"We're basically now left with not enough money to pretty much pay for all the debt which is $16 million a year roughly," he said.

The audit noted that debt service will continue to be borne by the General Fund should tipping rates not be raised to cover some of the costs. Denight says the report shows even more of the board's desire to take over the Layon Landfill, hauling transfer station in Harmon and the residential pickup - all of which he says have been completed but is still being billed by the receiver to oversee it. "So the board could take over those three sections out of the four, and start running it thus saving the money that is being paid to the receiver to run it and use that money to try and see if we can find a way to avoid this big increase and fees that is being looked at," he said.

The fourth component is the closing of the Ordot Landfill and would be handled by the receiver. As for the increase in fees itself, Denight says the receiver has indicated it should be decided by the Government of Guam and not the receiver. The board however feels otherwise as GBB representative David Manning has stated in meetings past, like in September last year, that the receiver has been in total control and not once did GovGuam make any decisions.

"Every decision that has been made to correct a horrible situation in solid waste on Guam has been made by this receiver and by the court not a single such decision has been made by the Government of Guam, not one," he said. "If you are one hundred percent the authority on this particular issue, you also have to accept that you're 100 percent responsible that resulted in your 100 percent authority over the last six years, you can't just back out of it and say it's not up to us, it's up to somebody else," he said.

The financial audit comes less than two weeks after a public hearing was held on Bill 281 that aimed to take the feds to court in recovering millions for their contribution to the Ordot Dump. 
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