Cost-Saving Relocation Of GovGuam Agencies To Hagåtña Requires Further Study

Governor Calvo: 'while I support the construction of a government office building – especially as a means to avoid lease arrangements, which may cost far more, none of this can be determined without a detailed analysis'

By Shawn Raymundo

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, February 05, 2017) – In light of a recent audit that found the government of Guam’s annual expense for leasing office space has doubled in roughly the past decade, Gov. Eddie Calvo has reinvigorated his push to complete more Hagåtña redevelopment projects, specifically the construction of a government center and river walk.

While speaking at the Chamber of Commerce’s general meeting last week, Calvo highlighted his plans to get the Hagåtña River Walk, government center and Palasyu going before he leaves office.

Calvo on Tuesday also spoke at length about the projects that have been completed so far. He acknowledged the refurbishment of the Guam Congress Building, completion of the Guam museum and restoration of the Plaza de España.

“But there’s more to this vision. There is, in the proposed plans, a river walk, which would provide a beautiful vista,” Calvo said in his address, later adding: “I have talked about rebuilding the Palasyu for years now. It’s an integral part of restoring Hagåtña as the center of government, culture and economic development.”

Under new legislation Speaker Benjamin Cruz, D-Tumon, introduced this week, the government would first have to complete cost-benefit analysis to determine the feasibility of relocating certain GovGuam agencies to Hagåtña.

“While I support the construction of government office building – especially as a means to avoid lease arrangements, which may cost far more, none of this can be determined without a detailed analysis,” Cruz wrote in a letter addressed to Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks.

On his personal Facebook page, Calvo expressed gratitude and support for the speaker's bill.

"We're all for making decisions based on facts so that we do the right thing and we do it right," Calvo posted. "Working together we absolutely can do anything!"

In a press release announcing the introduction of Bill 15-34, Cruz cited the Office of Public Accountability’s audit from last month, which called on the Guam Legislature and Adelup to continue seeking out means of constructing new government-owned buildings to house GovGuam agencies.

Based on his office’s review of the audit, however, Cruz stated that the government only stands to save $5.2 million from a transition to government space.

“This discrepancy is based on the fact that several of the entities contained in the review are either outside of executive control or required to serve the areas, villages or regions in which they are located,” Cruz’s press release states.

Inspiration for his proposed Comprehensive Cost-Benefit and Space Utilization Study came from the financial analysis the Consolidated Commission on Utilities conducted before the construction of the Guam Power Authority/Guam Waterworks Authority Multipurpose Facility, in Fadian.

“In addition to empirical review of the lease cost for the two GovGuam agencies, the nearly 70-page analysis included a full development plan and a comparison of various funding alternatives,” Cruz’s press release stated.

Cruz’s release notes that funding for the study would come from the upcoming Fiscal 2018 budget act.

“I introduced Bill 15 because knowing the right thing to do isn’t always the same thing as doing the right thing well,” the speaker stated in the release.

Pacific Daily News
Copyright © 2017 Guam Pacific Daily News. All Rights Reserved

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