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Final FY2011 ASPA report shows $8 Million surplus

fili@samoanews.com

The American Samoa Power Authority had a surplus of more than $8 million at the end of the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011 - which officially ended Sept. 30, 2011 - and the surplus is being questioned by some lawmakers in light of ASPA hiking fees for certain services.

Samoa News should point out that ASPA is using a $120.09 million budget for FY 2011 which was not approved by the Fono, who approved only $90.78 million. The ASPA board chairman has maintained that the ASPA board approves the annual budget and not the Fono.

For the current fiscal year 2012, which began on Oct. 1, the Fono approved only $30.8 million to cover the first four months of the new fiscal year - with ASPA to return in January 2012 to discuss the rest of its budget with lawmakers.

QUARTERLY REPORT

According to ASPA's fourth quarter performance report - which covers July through September 2011 - total revenue at the end of the quarter stands at $131.88 million ($131,888,213) while total expenses are listed at $123.03 million (or $123,037,261) - resulting in a surplus of $8.85 million.

Three lawmakers who have already seen the ASPA report, which is included in the American Samoa Government Fourth Quarterly Performance for FY 2011 received by lawmakers this week, says the report needs to be analyzed by the Legislative Financial Office to find out if ASPA did in fact get a surplus at the end of the quarter after complaining they were faced with financial constraints in FY 2011.

"While ASPA gets a surplus, customers got another hike in fees for water, solid waste and underground water protection that went into effect on Oct. 1st this year," said Rep. Larry Sanitoa, who has complained about the hike in fees affecting many low income families in his Tualauta county. "This ‘so called' surplus is confusing... ASPA claims they need the additional revenue as the reason for the fee hike, but their own financial report shows a surplus. So what is the deal here?"

He questioned if this surplus is being used to fund the bonuses that were recently given to certain ASPA employees and management.

Samoa News notes that one of the programs its former chief executive officer Michael Keyser is praised for starting is the "Bright Lights" program, which ASPA said recognizes employee accomplishments in ASPA. It is unknown if this is the program that initiated the bonuses as current ASPA CEO Andra Samoa has yet to reply to Samoa News questions about the bonuses.

Two other lawmakers say they have a problem with the figures in the report and they plan to question these numbers when lawmakers return in January.

REVENUES

According to ASPA, total actual operating and grant revenues for the 4th quarter is $131.88 million - "a variance of $11,792,713 or 10% more than revenue projections due to high fuel price".

Of the total revenues, $82.16 million (62%) for Electric division; $7.74 million (6%) for Water division; $3.93 million (3%) for Waster water division; $2.57 million (2%) for Solid Waste division; and $35.46 million (27%) for the Fuel division, according to the ASPA report.

EXPENSES

Total expense of $123.03 million includes fuel division expenses of $33.77 million (27%); electric division $75.15 million (61%); water division $9.03 million (7%); wastewater $3.28 million (3%) and Solid waste $1.78 million (2%). ASPA says this a variance of $2.94 million or 2% over budget.

Of the total expenses, ASPA says $8.79 million went to personnel costs; $69.54 million for materials and supplies; $170,180 for travel; $8.67 million in contractual service; $21.11 million in equipment; and $14.72 million in "all others" budget item.

At the end of the 4th quarter ASPA's total workforce was at 437 people - 26 contract workers; 370 full time employees and 41 temporary workers.

AGENCY PERFORMANCE

ASPA continues to "contain and control its divisional spending" with challenges of regulatory compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and change of the groundwater rules, says CEO Samoa in the performance report, dated Oct. 31.

She says ASPA and its local partner the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) have been working collaboratively on the Sanitary Survey corrective action plan in order to lift the Boil Water Notice for the rest of Tutuila.

"The accounts receivable continues to increase to the amount of $5 million to $6 million and the community continues to be concerned with the increase of rates," she said, and points out that ASPA has successfully transitioned to the Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) for the Satala Temporary Power Generation system and in addition, has provided, through its marketing partner the new product - ULSD - for possible customers - i.e. school buses, emergency ambulances, and others.

(The report does not identify who their marketing partner is.)

Also cited in the report are some of ASPA's accomplishments such as the commissioning of new engines for the Faleasao Power Plant and working with other local and federal partners with regard to general infrastructure and renewable energy projects.

One of the program impediments for ASPA is the delay in receiving 10% local matching assistance from ASG, and receivables continue to increase, the report says.



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