The reduction in road trips and flights during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dent in cash that goes into the Guam Highway Fund, according to an audit report the Guam Office of Public Accountability released Wednesday.
Total revenues decreased by $5 million to $20 million in the 2020 budget year.
Collections from liquid fuel taxes on products such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel decreased by $2.7 million or 19%; while collections from automotive surcharges, vehicle registration fees, and driver’s license fees decreased by $2.4 million or 22%, according to the audit report.
Revenues decreased primarily due to less motor traffic from reduced economic activity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the audit report states.
The Guam Highway Fund is supposed to primarily pay for the maintenance and construction of highways and roadways, as well as the implementation of all highway safety plans, programs and projects.
Highway funds went to unrelated expenses
However, similar to prior years, 35% or $8.7 million of fiscal 2020’s total expenditures from the highway fund were unrelated to highways or transportation, the auditors found. Unrelated expenditures included $7.9 million to the Mayors' Council of Guam’s salaries and wages, of which only $6.2 million was appropriated by the Guam Legislature.
The Capital Projects Fund accounts for highway construction projects, funded by bond proceeds, has incurred no expenditures and its ending balance remains at $176,000.