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12 23Mon10202014

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DPW opposes toll fee bill

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SENATOR Judith Guthertz’s proposal to levy a toll fee on all military traffic to and from Department of Defense installations on Guam is “contentious” and “not well thought-out,” public works director Larry Perez said yesterday.
Guthertz’s Bill 253, introduced last week, would require the Department of Public Works to build toll booths on each of the roadways leading into and from all federal facilities on Guam, and provide for the operations of the booths 24 hours a day in order to collect reimbursements owed Guam by the federal government.

“How comprehensive is it written especially when you haven’t even called DPW to discuss it?” Perez asked.

Bill 253, titled “The Priority Concerns Toll Booths act of 2009,” was introduced by Guthertz one day after the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act was cut out of the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act.

Perez said he has a lot of concerns about Guthertz’s proposal, especially since “there were no reasonable discussions before this bill was introduced.”

He said no one even called him to discuss the way in which the proposed toll booths would be operated. “I don’t think this was very well thought out,” said Perez.

Disconnected


“Normally toll booths are established for the construction and maintenance of roads; the money they generate is used for that,” Perez said. “When you create them and change fees for war reparations you have a disconnection in terms of the revenue source and the industry intended purposes of the toll booths.”

Guam has been receiving grants from the federal government, specifically from the Federation Aviation Authority, for construction and maintenance of roads.

Perez expressed concern that the bill might strain his good relationship with the federal government and the military, with whom he has been discussing capital improvement projects.

“My worry is will this now force the military to disengage discussions with me on the buildup, and the progress we have made on vetting out of capital improvement projects, the construction of roads, and the money they are giving me now,” he said.

Discussion


Perez urged Guthertz to “sit down and talk” with “reasonable minds” before she starts “throwing out these contentious bills.”

 “My intent is to make a strong statement and hopefully change Washington hearts and minds on the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act and provisions,” Guthertz told a press conference on Friday.

Perez said he is also concerned about the constitutionality of the bill. “Are you discriminating and segregating a group intentionally? Is the local government going to get into that kind of business?” he asked.

In her press release, Guthertz addressed the legal and constitutional aspect of her bill. “I do know that it is legal for states and territories to establish toll booths on their highways to generate revenue,” she stated in the press release.

 She equated the placing of toll booths at strategic locations to charging of different fees to residents and non-residents at universities in the mainland. “So why not for entrance and exit from military bases?” she said.


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