Guam Lawmakers Appropriate $2.6 Million For FestPac

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Arts festival funding shortfall covered by legislature

By Shawn Raymundo

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 4, 2016) – Guam lawmakers on Tuesday passed legislation that addresses a $1 million shortfall in funding for the upcoming Festival of Pacific Arts.

The bill would give organizers of the major cultural festival being hosted in Guam this year an additional $1.3 million to pay for event expenses. It would also appropriate about $1.34 million for overtime related to public safety and transportation.

The body voted 13-2 in favor of Bill 252-33.

Sen. Tina Muna Barnes’ measure was originally introduced to only appropriate $910,000 to the Guam Visitors Bureau for safety-related capital improvement projects in Tumon. The festival-related appropriations were later tacked on to the bill.

Democratic Sens. Mike San Nicolas and Nerissa Underwood opposed the measure.

With the festival fast approaching, Barnes last week decided to amend her bill with a rider based on a draft measure Gov. Eddie Calvo had sent to the Legislature.

Calvo proposed appropriating $1.5 million from anticipated Tourist Attraction Fund revenue in fiscal year 2017, which doesn’t begin until Oct. 1, 2016, for FestPac.

After some criticism from her colleagues, Barnes further amended the bill, identifying the Fiscal Year 2015 Hotel Occupancy Tax Surplus Fund as a funding source with available cash. With $2.3 million in the surplus fund, lawmakers agreed to appropriate $1.3 million to FestPac and $1 million toward the capital improvement projects.

The governor’s bill was a response to the Office of Public Accountability’s latest audit that reported the $1 million shortfall in FestPac’s budget.

If enacted, the bill will also appropriate about $1.34 million to the Guam Fire Department, Guam Police Department and Department of Public Works to address anticipated overtime costs associated with providing safety and transportation for the high-level dignitaries throughout the festival.

After meeting with agency heads from the Department of Administration, Bureau of Budget and Management Research and GVB last week, lawmakers were able to identify another $1.34 million available in the Fiscal Year 2016 Tourist Attraction Fund.

GPD will get $542,000 for overtime, while DPW will have $605,000 to cover overtime costs.

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