GovGuam Accuses Solid Waste Receiver Of Wasting Money

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Full accounting of spending needed by Solid Waste Board

By Gina Tabonares-Reilly

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, April 2, 2014) – The government of Guam and the Office of the Governor are insisting on a full and transparent accounting of Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc.’s management of the Guam Solid Waste Authority. Adelup is also accusing the receiver of spending more money than GSWA can afford.

Responding to a letter from the solid waste authority's board of directors to District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, attorney Rawlen Mantanona said he supports the board’s request for a full and transparent accounting before a transition in solid waste management from the receiver to the GSWA board "for the protection of both the GSWA board and the public funds."

The Adelup legal representative said GovGuam supports the board’s request to start the transition of and limit the role of the receiver to managing the closure of Ordot Dump.

According to Mantanona, the receiver is paid approximately $2 million a year for closing Ordot Dump and opening the Layon landfill. Since September 2011, the new landfill has been under the operational management of GGH Guam LLC, the assignee of third-party contractor Herzog Environmental Inc. The third-party contractor is paid approximately $6.3 million to operate the Layon landfill.

"It makes economic sense to avoid duplication of fees by transitioning oversight of the landfill to the board once there has been a full accounting of the receiver’s expenditures," Mantanona said.

The GovGuam attorney said his client is deeply troubled because the receiver has for years been spending far more money than GSWA can afford based on its current revenue without reporting the issues to the court.

"The receiver’s response to all of these issues has been to deny that a problem exists and to shift any responsibility or blame to the government," he said.

Mantanona also criticized the reaction of the receiver to the proposed waste-to-energy plant developers, Guam Recovery Resource Partners (GRRP), saying the receiver used the issue of GRRP to avoid addressing the issues raised by the board.

"The receiver chose to respond to the GSWA board’s letter by implying that the board does not understand what it is doing or that it has improper motives by linking to a contract between the government and GRRP," Mantanona said.

The lawyer added that the receiver obtained the GRRP contract and other information from Sen. Ben Pangelinan who he said "has loudly and consistently been opposed to the GRRP project."

Mantanona also recommended that GSWA should wean itself off of the Department of Administration’s accounting system and establish its own accounting system to start the transition process.

"An independent accounting system coupled with the hiring of a chief financial officer could mitigate the concern raised by GSWA that it does not receive timely financial statements which is crucial for accountability," Mantanona said.

Meanwhile, the chief judge issued an order yesterday for a change of scheduling of the status hearing.

The earlier-scheduled May 21 status hearing will be held instead on June 25 to accommodate the scheduling needs of the counsels of the United States and the government of Guam.

During the hearing, the receiver is expected to report its progress made toward compliance with the consent decree for the most recent two quarters.

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