There appears to be no funding available to build a sterile inspection, detention and security satellite facility for the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency, at least at this stage using the money from the General Fund of the Government of Guam.
Bill 218-36, introduced last October by Sen. James Moylan, proposes using $15 million from the general fund to build the facility.
The Key to Fighting Illegal Drugs and Invasive Species
“A functioning facility would provide many benefits to the island, including addressing the blight caused by invasive species on Guam’s economy and ecological system, as well as taking additional steps to combat a drug epidemic that negatively impacts many residents A functioning facility should also be able to host an X-ray scanning portal that would be able to scan containers and large bulk cargo for illegal substances,” the project states. of law 218.
However, the tax note as the bill indicates that the fund for fiscal year 2021 could end up with a negative balance of $20 million if Bill 218 is passed along with another measure to help businesses affected by the pandemic, and d other factors.
The general fund’s September financial report said the fund raised $62 million more than forecast for the fiscal year. Bill 218 takes note of the surplus and states that after other obligations are taken into account, there would still be $17 million of the fiscal year 2021 surplus available to meet other community needs. community.
But the budget note says that while the General Fund raised more than expected, the special revenue funds missed the budget for fiscal year 2021 by about $20 million, which the General Fund would have to cover if the relevant departments had spent. their credits.
In addition, the budget law for fiscal year 2022 allocates $20 million of revenue for fiscal year 2021 to the payment of tax refunds. Beyond that, the General Fund also has a cumulative shortfall of $1.5 million to fill.
Another competitor to Bill 218 was Bill 214-36, the measure that would allocate a $25 million share to the Local Employer Assistance Program.
Bill 214 is now Public Law 36-65, and the tax memo to Bill 218 stated that if Bills 214 and 218 were passed into law, “the result will be a balance of approximately $20 million in revenue uncommitted (general fund) at the end of FY2021.”
$10 million for war reparations also sought
Although not part of the memo, the governor is also seeking a $10 million appropriation to pay a new round of war claims.
This tax note was submitted in November 2021, just over a month after the start of the 2022 financial year.
Guam is now a few months into fiscal year 2022 and the latest report available on the General Fund indicates that the fund expects to finish $19 million over budget for the year, but this is still a projection.
Sen. Telo Taitague took note of the tax analysis during a public hearing on Bill 218 last week.
While she said she supports the intent of the bill and appreciates efforts to find other sources of funding, Taitague said “the reality” is that there is no funding from the General Fund for now.
Customs hope for funding next year
Guam Customs and Quarantine Director Ignacio Peredo asked lawmakers to include the provisions of Bill 218 in the budget bill for fiscal year 2023 after reviewing his tax bill.
He also said his agency had submitted a grant application to the Guam State Clearinghouse to try to identify a source of funding, had reviewed technical grants from the United States Department of Agriculture, and had met with the Guam Economic Development Authority to seek support. help with financing options. .
“They mentioned several things that we can work with, such as sale-leaseback financing, to include bond financing, but that’s all been forwarded to the (governor’s office) for discussion at this point,” Peredo said.
Guam Customs and Quarantine received four acres in Piti to construct the satellite facility. The parcel of land would revert to the Port Authority of Guam if no facility is built within three years of enactment. An extension was granted by Public Law 36-12, but that is ineffective without funding to continue construction plans for the satellite facility, according to Bill 218.