Trash service for all should be turned into reality without further delay - 2

LANDFILL: A bulldozer pushes trash into a section of Cell 3 at the Layon Landfill on Wednesday. The Leon Guerrero administration confirmed its major spending initiative called "Investment para Hamyo" will include an effort to subsidize trash collection for families who cannot afford it. Dontana Keraskes/The Guam Daily Post

While not outlined in a presentation of its major spending plan of federal pandemic aid, federal grants and local funds, the Leon Guerrero administration has confirmed it will pursue universal trash collection under "Investment para Hamyo."

Both Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio said bridging the financial gap for families who can't afford current solid waste tipping fees is currently being worked on with the Guam Solid Waste Authority.

"In the last few months, the governor and I have been in dialogue with the chairman of the (GSWA) about what it would take and what kind of capital investment it would take, for us to realize the goal of universal trash collection," Tenorio told The Guam Daily Post at a media conference Tuesday. "And part of that is a replacement and an expansion of the large-ticket items that are responsible for trash collection."

A "profile" of "pro forma expenses" has been presented to Leon Guerrero that outlines proposed ways forward, he said, which would at the same time improve residential collections.

A final plan, however, is "still being worked on," according to Tenorio.

The governor has directed her team to "come up with calculations" for how much it will take to subsidize residential rates for families.

"We are going to have trash collection for everybody. And it's not just those that are registered and can pay. We are going to roll that out. It's just a matter now of how much it means, and of course our focus is going to be on … how much amount of subsidy can we do to minimize the cost of the trash collection," the governor said.

Neither Leon Guerrero nor Tenorio shared how much money it would take to subsidize the service for every household not currently paying for trash removal services, or from where the funds would come.

"It is a big amount of money that we believe is going to help us realize the expansion of solid waste collection, but it is a little bit complicated – but it's something we're up to the task for," Tenorio said.

Having more people become GSWA customers would mitigate negative effects to the environment caused by littering and abandoning trash that may have hazardous materials, officials have said.

"One of the reasons we're pretty persistent on this universal trash collection is we feel this is a way to deter and eliminate illegal dumping," Leon Guerrero said.

Total cost of investment plan still unclear

Adelup has released a funding breakdown for "Investment para Hamyo" overall, at the request of the Post.

The document provided, however, appears to commingle already completed projects and initiatives that began long before the plan was rolled out Tuesday.

A total investment figure compiled by the governor's office purports to show "Investment para Hamyo" investing more than $3.2 billion into the island.

But this figure includes:

• $805 million in unemployment assistance, which started to be paid in May 2020, and was closed for new claims on Oct. 27.

• $430 million in stimulus checks. While Economic Impact Payment checks have been regularly mailed as applications with errors were resolved, the last round of checks totaling more than $1 million was mailed in early September, Post files show.

• $397 million for an investment only described by Adelup's document as "public schools."

• $50 million in "cannabis revenue for Tumon infrastructure." No cannabis dispensaries have been licensed to date to begin legal sales to customers.

• $38 million to fund the "All RISE" program, which was processed and paid in September.

• $15 million to stave off additional rate increases from the Guam Power Authority. The public utility received this amount in federal aid for this purpose in August.

An additional request has been made to Adelup, to outline only the administration's newly funded investments.


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