Vice-Speaker Cruz voted against the bill because he says the CLTC should already have the money needed for surveys. Speaker Won Pat is concerned that the bill strays from the original intent of the Chamorro Land Trust.
Guam – Although lawmakers passed the proposed rules and regulations for the Chamorro land trust the vice-speaker and the speaker voted no on the measure. here’s why.
All but two senators voted for the proposed rules and regulations for the Chamorro Land Trust Commission. Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz and Speaker Judi Won Pat voted no. These rules and regs are needed to allow the CLTC to issue commercial leases to raise money needed to survey property that can then be issued for residential leases.
The Vice-Speaker says according to last year’s audit the CLTC should have already enough money for surveys. “The Chamorro Land Trust should have $1.9 million dollars in cash why aren’t they using it for surveys?” said Vice-Speaker Cruz.
The Vice-Speaker says it appears that most of the money is being spent on the rising costs of the CLTC office for salaries and rent. In fact the Vice-Speaker provided us with documents showing that salaries went up from $240 thousand dollars last year to $546 thousand dollars this year. Rent has gone up increasingly. When this administration first took office the CLTC was paying no rent. Their rent increased each year. Now they are paying $315 thousand dollars annually. “What are they renting? The entire floor at ITC or is the Chamorro Land Trust fund being used to pay for some Department of Land Management operations?” asked Cruz.
The Vice-Speaker says this money is strictly meant for the Chamorro Land Trust and should be used for surveys. “These costs are exorbitant and unreasonable you have cash use it for surveys,” said Vice-Speaker Cruz.
Speaker Judi Won Pat shares these concerns but she’s also concerned that the issuing of commercial leases is contrary to the original intent of the Chamorro Land Trust. “First and foremost is to make lands available to take care of our people for those who don’t have land,” said Won Pat. The Speaker is also concerned about a provision that allows for subleasing and she would like to have a requirement that businesses that get commercial leases have at least 51 percent Chamorro ownership. Most of all the Speaker is concerned that with more commercial leases there will be less land for the Chamorro people. “If we have 8000 on the list that haven’t received property then it’s going to get worse as we start to deplete the inventory,” said Speaker Won Pat.
It’s not clear yet whether or not the Governor will sign or veto the measure. It should be noted that the Governor has maintained that the first set of rules and regulations that lawmakers voted on this year should have lapsed into effect. The Governor has even sought an opinion from the Attorney General on the matter.