Proposed Guam School Bus Purchase Scrutinized

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Transportation maintenance head criticizes procurement law

By Zita Taitano

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Dec. 7, 2012) – A measure intended to lease school buses received negative testimony from Guam’s Department of Public Works yesterday, specifically from employees in the Transportation Maintenance and Bus Operations divisions.

The public hearing room of the Legislature was packed with employees from both divisions where Bill 328-31, or the Yellow School Bus Procurement Act of 2012, was being discussed before the committee on appropriations. Presiding over the committee was acting Speaker B.J. Cruz in place of committee chairman Sen. Ben Pangelinan, who was not present.

The measure would authorize the government of Guam to enter into a municipal lease arrangement with a contractor for the procurement of 123 school buses, 13 of which would be used for students with special needs. The agreement would be a lease-back and structured as an annually renewable lease with the provision for automatic renewals.

Paul Cepeda, superintendent for the Division of Transportation Maintenance, questioned where the funding would come for the lease of the new buses and expressed his opposition to Bill 328-31.

He also said that if the bill passes, it would mean the employees would no longer be needed and may lose their jobs.

"You will virtually throw us under the very buses that we have been working on diligently and religiously to keep safe and sound," he said, adding DPW will still be blamed if there is another bus crisis.

DPW Director Joanne Brown said they are willing to work with the Legislature to address these issues but noted there’s already funding from Compact Impact to buy 10 new 84-passenger buses that have been put out for bid and additional funding for FY2013 to purchase 20 new 60-passenger buses.

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