Guam – Senator Ben Pangelinan is hailing last night’s [Thursday] decision by the Public Utilities Commission [PUC] to order the Guam Waterworks Authority to pay the GovGuam General Fund $18 million dollars for funds the GovGuam General Fund has been paying on a 23 year old infrastructure bond originally taken out by the old Public Utilities Agency of Guam [PUAG].
In a release, Senator Pangelinan is quoted as saying: “I am glad that this issue has been put behind us and that our taxpayers and our manamko’ get what is rightfully owed to them by this government.”
The PUC’s unanimous decision holds the CCU accountable to an existing Public Law, P.L. 30-145.
Senator Pangelinan introduced an amendment to the bill that became that law last year requiring GWA to use about $20 million dollars from last year’s GWA infrastructure bond to pay back the General Fund.
Under Pangelinan’s amendment, about $9-million of the total would be used to pay income tax refunds for 2009 and prior years. Another $9-million would be used to pay interest and principal for Cost of Living Allowances to the Lola COLA complainants.
CCU Considering Legal Action
However, on the K-57 Breakfast Show this morning, CCU Chairman Simon Sanchez decried the PUC’s decision saying that Bond Counsel Stan Dirks has raised concerns that Pangelinan’s amendment violates the conditions of the bond terms which require that the funds be used for infrastructure projects, not to pay back a prior loan.
Sanchez said that the decision means GWA will have to raise rates again between 4% and 8% in order to cover the cost of raising the $18 million through another bond issue. He also said that he’ll bring the decision to the attention of the Federal Court which may take exception to it because the burden of another $18 million dollar payment requirement on GWA may inter fer with the Court’s stipulated order requiring GWA to bring its infrastructure into compliance with the Clean Water Act.
Sanchez said that the CCU will meet again next Tuesday to consider legal action
READ Senator Pangelinan’s Release on the PUC Decision below:
SENATOR PANGELINAN HOLDS THE CCU AND THE GWA ACCOUNTABLE AND GETS MONEY TO PAY $9M IN TAX REFUNDS AND $9M IN COLA
FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (June 3, 2011– Hagåtña) – As requested by Senator Vicente (ben) Cabrera Pangelinan (D), Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Taxation, Public Debt, Banking, Insurance, Retirement & Land (Committee) four months ago, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) last night unanimously approved the Administrative Law Judge’s proposed order and ordered the CCU and the GWA to comply with the existing Public Law 30-145 and repay $18,333,333 to the government of Guam. Senator Pangelinan testified again last night at the PUC Special Meeting at the GCIC Building. Over the past four months, Senator Pangelinan has been trying to hold the Consolidated Commission on Utilities (CCU) and the Guam Waterworks Authority (GWA) accountable for their subversion of Public Law 30-145, which requires that the GWA repay up to $20 million to the government of Guam for portions of bonds or loans paid for by General Fund revenues over the past few decades, of which the GWA has reaped the rewards. The good Senator from Barrigada attended several other PUC meetings over the last four months in an attempt to recoup these funds in order for approximately $9 million be paid toward income tax refunds for 2009 and prior and $9 million be paid toward interest and principal for cost of living allowances pursuant to Superior Court No. SP0206-93.
“I am glad that this issue has been put behind us and that our taxpayers and our manamko’ get what is rightfully owed to them by this government. It is definitely disheartening to actually see the great lengths that the CCU and the GWA took and are continuing to take through threatening litigation, in order to continue to break the spirit and letter of Public Law 30-145 and prevent the taxpayers and our manamko’ from being able to pay for their basic necessities and other emergency-related issues,” stated the Senator.
The PUC unanimously ordered the CCU and the GWA to repay $18,333,333 back to the government of Guam. Chairman of the CCU, Simon Sanchez, has continually threatened the people, small businesses, large corporations, and the government of Guam itself that there will need to be a rate increase. Senator Pangelinan provided his testimony last night that not only continued to urge the PUC to order the CCU and the GWA to repay the $18 million, but also provided a detailed financial analysis of why rates should actually decrease. The PUC subsequently ordered that an independent rate investigation be sought by a financial consultant and that they consider the recommendations Senator Pangelinan provided toward decreasing the water rates.
“Based on my review of the previous PUC meeting minutes, the Georgetown Consulting Group (GCG) analyses and reports, and several GWA dockets presented and archived by the PUC, I provided ample testimony to the PUC which prompted them to order an independent investigation into the water rates, in hopes of not increasing the rates, but decreasing them,” stated the Senator. “Not only will the taxpayers of Guam receive over $9 million in cash for tax refund payments and our manamko’ receive over $9 million in cash for COLA payments, but all the people, businesses, and the government of Guam could see a rate decrease in the coming months. I stand ready, willing, and able to defend the ratepayers of this island against any unsubstantiated and unnecessary rate increases. The days of runaway rate increases by the CCU with insufficient evidence to do so are long gone.”