Trash fee hike to be delayed as GSWA gets $1.3M in federal funds

Trash bags. (PNC file photo)

The solid waste fee increase planned for this October will be pushed back as the Guam Solid Waste Authority gets some funding from the American Rescue Plan.

GSWA was planning to file a petition with the Public Utilities Commission for a rate increase upon the recommendation of its consultants and its management audit.

But according to GSWA chairman Andrew Gayle, they have been meeting with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to discuss a delay in the rate increase.

“We have been meeting with the governor who asked us to give her an update on islandwide waste collection and what financial impact we’ve had due to COVID and if federal assistance can help offset the COVID loss,” Gayle said.

He added that the governor asked if it would be possible for GSWA not to implement the rate increase if some of the American Rescue Plan proceeds can be allotted to GSWA.

“She asked us not to implement a rate increase if it’s not necessary and I said, governor, none of us want to implement rate increases, unless they’re necessary. But we’re running under the assumption that this is the pot of money that we have to work with and we don’t really have control over any external sources coming in,” Gayle said.

GSWA is now looking at what impact COVID-19 had on the agency’s revenues for 2020 and what the projected impact would be for 2021 and 2022. Adelup can then determine the total figure of how much GSWA can have access to American Rescue Plan funding.

The good news, according to Gayle, is that Adelup just informed them that GSWA is in line for American Rescue Plan funding of about $1.3 million. And this is just to cover GSWA’s 2020 losses.

“And we may get it fairly soon because of the timing required for that and those monies,” Gayle said.

He added: “So I think it’s a great idea. And in my personal opinion, if we could get more of that federal money, that would have an impact on the timing of our rate plan model.”