FEMA TO PAY GUAM GOVERNOR’S $58,000 RENT

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By Steve Limtiaco

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 16) - The Federal
Emergency Management Agency has agreed to pay most of the governor's rent at the
Pacific News Building for another six months, according to the governor's
office.

Storm damage to the governor's complex at Adelup prompted newly
elected Gov. Felix Camacho to move his office and other government offices to
the Pacific News Building. FEMA officials agreed to pay most of the rent for six
months -- an arrangement that expired June 6.

Supertyphoon Pongsona hit the island Dec. 8, causing heavy
damage to buildings, property and infrastructure.

The governor's staff, central files personnel, community
outreach office, the Medical Referral Office, the Bureau of Budget and
Management Research and the Bureau of Planning and Statistics all moved to the
Pacific News Building, occupying offices on several different floors. The
Passport Office, which was located at Tiyan, moved to the Pacific News Building
as well, and shares space with the Medical Referral Office and community
outreach workers.

Rent is $52,800 per month.

The Adelup complex still is not ready to be occupied and
governor's spokesman John Dela Rosa said FEMA officials recently extended
funding for rent through Dec. 6.

Dela Rosa said the governor's office has been paying the entire
rent cost out of its budget, but said the federal agency will reimburse 90
percent of that cost.

Insurance

Camacho said the main hurdle to returning to Adelup is meeting
insurance requirements so FEMA officials will release the $1.7 million necessary
to restore Adelup to its pre-typhoon condition.

The governor said the administration plans to have that issue
resolved by August so requests for proposals can be issued for the repair work.

"We want to get out of this building (the Pacific News
Building) as soon as possible. Adelup is where we should be; however the cost
involved, the insurance issues and all the other priorities are what we're faced
with at this point," the governor said.

Camacho said he would like to see other federally funded hazard
mitigation projects at Adelup, beyond the $1.7 million in typhoon-related
repairs, but said he is committed to moving back to Adelup even if those extra
projects do not happen.

Although the federal agency will provide rental assistance until
early December, Camacho said he is ready to move before then if Adelup is ready.

With respect to the future of Adelup, Camacho said a thorough
assessment will be done to help determine whether it would be cost-effective to
keep the existing structure or to explore other options.

The Mayors' Council of Guam moved its central office out of
Adelup as well, and lawmakers appropriated $32,000 so the council could rent
office space for the rest of this fiscal year.

But the council was using free space at the Asan mayor's office
and held mayoral meetings at the Sinajana mayor's office until recently, said
council administrative assistant Mary Cruz Sablan.

The council moved into an office at Ada's Commercial and
Professional Center in May, Sablan said, at a cost of $3,167.10 per month.

By moving, mayors traded free space with phone service for
rented space without phone service.

Although the council has a new office, it does not have phone
service because Guam Telephone Authority refuses to install new lines because of
the council's existing phone debt.

Sablan said the telephone agency first wants the council to
settle an existing $9,000 phone bill, which includes delinquent payments for the
19 village mayors' offices.

Mayors communicate with the new central office by cellular phone
or by radio.

Mayors' Council president and Yigo Mayor Robert Lizama said the
council needed to rent its own space because continuing to work out of Asan was
impractical. He said the council needs a place to keep personnel and procurement
documents and other files, and a proper meeting place for the mayors.

He said the council continues to work to establish phone
service, including finding money within its existing utilities budget to pay the
phone debt. He said Sen. John Quinata, D-Talofofo, has been helping out by
allowing the council to use phones and a fax machine at his office, which is two
doors away.

The money appropriated for rent can be spent only on rent, and
only until the end of September, according to the council. That means about half
of the $32,000 appropriation will not be sp

June 17, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com 

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