Aguon proposes limiting budget to six months

PROPOSAL: Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. is pictured at the Guam Congress Building in Hagåtña. Post file photo

Senator and gubernatorial candidate Frank Aguon Jr. is seeking to revert new fuel tax increases over community concerns with a "barrage of tax increases" to take place this year.

A 4 cent increase to liquid fuel taxes was implemented in January. Following that rate hike was a 25 percent increase to the business privilege tax in April and the anticipated implementation of Guam's first sales tax in October.

Aguon's Bill 270-34 would remove the 4 cent increase to the liquid fuel tax.

The increase was intended to help fund road improvements on Guam. However, the Department of Public Works already has access to $1.8 million through appropriations in fiscal year 2018 and another $2 million in federal funding to pay for street improvements in 19 villages, Aguon's office stated.

"I understand the intent of the law and the importance of a dedicated funding source to fix secondary and tertiary roads in our villages," Aguon stated in a press release.

"However, we have a funding source that our people have already been paying for, that is dedicated to our village roads, but it has been diverted to other areas of our government through no fault of our people," he added, referring to the use of Territorial Highway Fund monies for activities other than road repair.

Liquid fuel tax collections are added into the fund.

DPW has not yet accessed the additional funds generated through the fuel tax increase.

Up to $1B needed for road repairs

The around $3.8 million intended for 19 village streets represents a sliver of the $700 million to possibly $1 billion needed to fund repairs on about 800 roads on Guam, outlined in the Village Street Master Plan.

DPW Director Glenn Leon Guerrero has previously stated that his agency has been under-resourced and that this has affected the implementation of the master plan. Of the $3.7 million that enters the agency's Division of Highways, about $2.8 million goes to salaries, the management response stated.

The current liquid fuel tax – recent increase included – is estimated to generate about $3.5 million annually, Leon Guerrero stated.

The top six streets that need repair, compiled from mayors and the VSMP, require about $70 million alone and is a 20-year plan, the director added.

Leon Guerrero did not state outright whether he was against repealing the liquid fuel tax increase, stating lawmakers have a larger responsibility than his limited purview as director of DPW.

"I would testify that I need money to fix village streets and (the tax) is the tool to do it," Leon Guerrero said. "If (lawmakers) come up with something different, then far be it from me to say no to that."

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