Respicio-Limtiaco: Point Counter-Point Over Bill to Restore and Expand Old Guam Congress Building

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Guam – Senator Rory Respicio is buoyed by passage of  Bill #155 which he says brings the restoration and expansion of the old Guam Congress building one “step closer to reality.”

The Bill was passed Thursday on a vote of 12-1 with only Senator Mike Limtiaco voting no because he objected to the additional $4 million dollars in borrowing which Bill #155 authorizes the construction of a north wing to the old Legislature.

In a release, Senator Respicio called passage of the bill “a great day for Guam, as an important part of our heritage will be restored in Hagåtña.”

The Senator credits the Guam Economic Development Authority [GEDA] for helping the Legislature get the necessary financing, and the Bank of Guam for agreeing to loan up to $4 Million for the renovations. The Senator says “according to GEDA, this loan provides the best rates and specifications of any loan ever granted to GovGuam, due to the Legislature’s sound fiscal plan.” [read Senator Respicio’s release in full below.]

However in a release of his own, Senator Limtiaco pointed out that the Guam Preservation Trust already has a $3 million dollar grant “to restore the old Guam Congress Building to its original glory.”

And he also points out that the current monthly rental for the Guam Legislature Building is $21,000 per month while the debt service for the expansion of the old Guam Congress Building will cost $25,306 a month. Senator Limtiaco says that means that “we are actually going to pay $4,306 more per month to finance just the additional $4 million of borrowing.” [see Senator Limtiaco’s release below].

READ the release from Senator Limtiaco below:

As a point of clarification there is already $3 million granted by the Guam Preservation Trust to restore the old Guam Congress Building to its original glory.  The additional $ 4 million of borrowing which Bill 155 attempts to do is for the expansion of the old Guam Congress Building to house not all offices but only certain offices and as few as five Senators.

It should be clarified that the current monthly rental for the Guam Legislature Building is $21,000.00/month and the debt service for the expansion of the old Guam Congress Building will cost $25,306.00/month provided interest rates don’t rise.  So, we are actually going to pay $4,306.00 more per month to finance just the additional $4 million of borrowing.  The assumption of savings is predicated on energy efficiencies that may or may not be realized.

We would never assume that the leaders of today need any more than what the leaders of the past needed.  Restoring the original footprint is adequate we don’t need to spend money to expand the building.  The additional $4 million earmarked for expansion should be focused on the priorities of our government; education, public safety, and public health.

READ the release from Senator Respicio below:

Restoration of historic Guam Legislature Building closer to reality

August 22, 203 –– Lawmakers today passed Bill No. 155-32 (COR), which would restore the historic “Guam Congress Building” in Hagåtña. The legislation, authored by Majority Leader Rory J. Respicio, passed with 12 AYE votes, two absences and one NAY vote by Senator Mike Limtiaco.

“This is a great day for Guam, as an important part of our heritage will be restored in Hagåtña,” Respicio said. “This iconic structure, better known as the Guam Legislature Building, was home for some of the greatest leaders in our history. Their actions brought citizenship to our people, and created the framework for our system of laws.”

The National Register of Historic Places added the “Guam Congress Building” to their list on February 1, 2007, based on the significance of political events that took place in the building, and changed the status of the Chamorro people. The Legislature’s location and reconstruction coincides with ongoing projects that serve as key elements in our capitol city’s revitalization, such as the Guam Museum construction project.

In 2008, the Legislature submitted an application to the Guam Preservation Trust to renovate and rehabilitate the historic building. The Trust subsequently approved a $3 Million grant, and initial work and planning began on the project to include a structural assessment, an Historic Structure’s Report and the Architectural Plan and Design. The Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA) assisted the Legislature in obtaining necessary financing, and the Bank of Guam has committed to loan up to $4 Million for renovations. According to GEDA, this loan provides the best rates and specifications of any loan ever granted to GovGuam, due to the Legislature’s sound fiscal plan.

“This legislation is the result of a successful partnership among the Legislature, the Guam Preservation Trust, GEDA, and the Bank of Guam. Former Senator, and now Bank of Guam President & Chief Executive Officer Lou A. Leon Guerrero, praised the Legislature for moving forward on this project,” Respicio said.

Bill No. 155-32 (COR) finalizes the requirements for the loan agreement with the Bank of Guam. A public hearing on the bi-partisan measure was held on August 1, 2013 and testimony was overwhelmingly in support of the measure. Former Legislative Speakers including Joaquin C. Arriola, Thomas V.C. Tanaka and Joe T. San Agustin, all appeared before the Committee on Rules, Federal, Foreign and Micronesian Affairs, Human & Natural Resources, and Election Reform and testified in favor of Bill No. 155-32 (COR).