Telecommunications company AT&T owes about $5.7 million in back rent to the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission on property at Tanguisson Point in Dededo.
Tanguisson Point is the landing station for several submarine cable systems.
GALC is pursuing a lease agreement with AT&T for further use of the property through the commission's property manager, the Guam Economic Development Authority.
The Tanguisson property was transferred to the government of Guam by the federal government via quitclaim deed in 2002 and transferred to GALC later that year, according to a letter submitted to AT&T area manager Linda Rankin.
The company held a lease with the Navy for the property. It failed to renew the lease but continued using the facility. The lease expired in 2006, according to the letter to Rankin.
GALC and GEDA determined that AT&T should have paid back rent to the lands commission since 2002.
The letter and invoices for back rent were transmitted on May 27 by email and certified mail, despite being dated earlier, according to GEDA Real Property Division manager Larry Toves, who was updating GALC commissioners on the issue during a meeting on June 5.
A proposed lease agreement also was submitted to AT&T.
GEDA had not heard back from the company in time for the meeting on June 5, but Toves said he received an email from Rankin on May 17 indicating her leadership was eager to hear GEDA's response with regard to continued use of the Tanguisson property.
"At least at that point they are willing to negotiate with the commission on the terms," Toves said.
"With respect to back rent, that might be an issue because, as you can see, it's a huge amount of money. But at any rate, I don't suspect there's anything preventing them from responding. My speculation and in our discussions, we believe that because of this letter and because of the attachments, the (AT&T) corporate office in California is having their attorneys go through this."
Toves said he believes AT&T will take some time to respond to the Real Property Division's letter and that GEDA is following up through email.
The lands commission and GEDA are waiting until the end of the month to hear back from the company.
The back rent from AT&T, as well as proceeds from a potential lease agreement with the company and agreements on other GALC properties are part of the commission's goal to become fully autonomous by 2021, according to GALC Director Joe Angoco.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero separated GALC and the Chamorro Land Trust Commission from the Department of Land Management as her first executive order in January.
Lease proceeds are one avenue by which GALC could compensate land owners. The commission was created in 1999 and charged with compensating dispossessed land owners, either monetarily or through real property. However, no dispossessed owners have been compensated. The commission has either ran into insufficient funding or insufficient land in the past, Angoco said.
GALC earlier this year submitted to the Legislature proposed amendments to its rules and regulations. The existing rules are vague and contain ambiguities, according to Angoco. The rules need to be clarified before compensation can move forward, he said, as GALC does not want to run into issues with lease agreements. The formula or methodology for fair and equitable compensation must also be determined, he added.