illegal dumping

An abandoned oven lays rusting just off Route 34 in Tamuning as seen on Sept. 15, 2021.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Inactive vendors and over-budgeting for less common types of trash could lead to more than half of taxpayer-funded cleanup initiative’s budget being unspent.

Michelle Lastimoza, deputy administrator of the Guam Environmental Protection Agency, reported how often the program was used in the last fiscal year by the Mayors Council of Guam, which receives a portion of the island’s Recycling Revolving Fund.

This restricted account pays for environmental programs in the government and for partnerships with private sector and community partners.

The mayors council was allocated $1.3 million in the past fiscal year to remove illegal waste from village streets. According to Lastimoza, as of Sept. 16, the breakdown of items reported to have been removed were:

• 6,635 tires;

• 1,262 abandoned vehicles;

• 1,151 white goods;

• 488.5 cubic yards of loose items;

• 2,555 electronics goods;

• 254 cubic yards of green waste.

The cost of removing the trash amounted to $641,312.50, Lastimoza said, leaving $658,687.50 — more than half of the budget given to the mayors council — potentially unspent.

Jesse Alig, mayor of Piti and council president, told The Guam Daily Post that all pending invoices have been collected from mayors' offices, and would be submitted to Guam EPA soon for processing payment.

But he does anticipate an unspent balance when the late transactions are completed. Alig explained that the vendor that accepts used tires was closed for part of last year, and some villages ended up not needing all the funds earmarked for certain types of trash, like green waste.

The final balance will be de-obligated, but the council can request it to be rolled over into the current fiscal year, Alig confirmed. The council has been budgeted $1.5 million from the budget law to pay for the program in fiscal 2022.

Guam EPA is preparing for an initial release of more than $800,000 to keep the village program going, with the remaining budget paid in increments for the remainder of the fiscal year.

The requested funds, and a draft formal agreement with the council, will be discussed and voted on during a Guam EPA board meeting next week, Lastimoza said.

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