No increase to Chamorro Village rent, fees
We first brought the story two weeks ago over the outcry from Chamorro Village merchants over a proposal to increase rent and to implement a common area fee. But not only is management apologizing to merchants, but merchants are being informed that no increase will come their way.
"I think this is the way to go," noted Dr. Marilyn Salas, adding, "and we live in a Chamorro cultural environment and it's also with diversity therefore this is the way to go. And apology is accepted by the merchants and we move forward." She's the owner of Salas Gardens and is the president of I Sengsong Chamorro Merchants Corporation. She was one of three dozen merchants who received an apology today from the Department of Chamorro Affairs president Joseph Cameron.
"So I apologize in the manner in which information has gone out erroneously," he said. "This was clearly not the intent of the president of the Chamorro Affairs and the governor, so I ask to accept my apology."
It was late last month when Chamorro Village merchants raised concern over a proposal to raise the rent. According to Cameron, that no longer will be case, as he said, "There are no plans to increase the rent before the Festival of the Pacific Arts." It's a statement that bore repeating three times at the request of merchants and was met with applause.
And while rent will not be increased, Chamorro Village itself is not out of the woods. "Although we do not plan to increase the rent before FESTPAC, we still need to address the delinquent accountant that were referred to the in audit, we need to sit down and hash that out moving forward," Cameron continued.
A recent audit from the Office of Public Accountability showed that in the last fiscal year, Chamorro Village lost $59,000. The largest expense was for $249,000 for utilities, which would be covered by common area fees. The so called fees are part of rules and regulations from 1996 that would have vendors paying over $800 for a 200-square foot unit. Some occupy more than that space and would have meant more than double what they pay now in rent. Cameron says it's only a formula that was looked at, adding, "And how the information came out, that that's the formula to be applied, is not coming from me and it's not coming from the governor, so we want to make that erroneous statement clarified," he said.
As for how Chamorro Village will address its bills, both Cameron and Salas agree it has to be a collaborative effort, with the latter saying, "I believe that we're going to make a team of people to include the merchants in just how we can address those shortfalls. Rent increases are not going to happen until after the festival, so everyone is happy about that."