Mayors urge senators to leave tax increase intact

COUNCIL: Mayors' Council of Guam President Melissa Savares has sent a letter to the island’s 15 senators urging them to leave the business privilege tax where it is at 5%. The mayors' council members are shown in a recent meeting. Post file photo

Mayors Council of Guam president Melissa Savares has sent a letter to the island’s 15 senators urging them to leave the business privilege tax where it is at 5%.

The letter was written in opposition to Sen. James Moylan's proposal to  roll the BPT back to 4% where it was last year before the 34th Guam Legislature approved a 25% increase to cover the shortfall created by the Trump tax cuts.

“We plead with you to truly consider the impact and the ensuing problems that Bill 9-35 would cause our villages,” wrote the Dededo mayor in her letter which was signed by 16 of the island's 19 village mayors. 6 of 7 vice mayors also signed the letter.

Ordot Chalan Pago mayor Jessy Gogue, Agat mayor Kevin Susuico, Piti Mayor Jesse Alig, and Agat vice mayor Chris Fejeran did not sign it.

"If we saw more of how we were saving money," said Mayor Alig in a phone interview with the Post "then I would probably be more inclined to support the 5%."

Moylan’s Bill 9-35 was introduced at the start of the year and received strong support from the business community during a public hearing in July.

However Savares points out that Moylan's bill would result in a $58 million revenue shortfall for GovGuam. That would reduce the availability of funds for the services provided by the mayors council and "would make our already difficult work even harder."

Savares maintains that the village mayors are the “first-responders” to the problems raised by residents who expect the mayors to address broken streetlights, open or repair roads, clean up illegal dumps, get rid of stray and dead animals or provide funeral assistance. “The list goes on,” wrote the mayor.

In response, Sen. Moylan issued a statement saying, “we respect the position of the Mayors Council of Guam.” But he argues “the BPT is a regressive tax and impacts working class families at the cash registers, hence we are still committed towards the reduction.”

Moylan adds that “we still need to identify cost cutting measures and new revenues so that front line entities such as the mayors offices are not gravely impacted."

The senator said he hopes to work with the mayors council on that process "as we need their assistance.”

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