Governor signs $100K bill
Gov. Togiola Tulafono has signed into law an administration bill allocating $50,000 each to fund the completion of the traditional Samoan fale, Faletele at Utulei Beach and to assist the American Samoa National Under 19 Football team.
“Thank you for your efforts and for those of your colleagues in passing this important bill,” Togiola wrote in an Apr. 4 letter to the Fono leadership about the bill signed into law. The measure is to be funded with the estimated general fund revenues for fiscal year 2012, which are available as a result of the governor’s line-item veto action of the FY 2012 budget bill.
UNDER 19 TEAM
According to the measure, $50,000 for the Samoa Bowl Committee is to assist with providing transportation and accommodations for the Under 19 team, recently returned from an Australia tournament and heading out this summer to Texas.
In his letter to the Fono, the governor says that the team was “victorious” in Australia, at the qualifier for the International Federation of American Football’s World Championship and they will be playing in the Texas tournament later this year.
“These young men have worked very hard and I appreciate the Fono’s support of their efforts,” said Togiola. “They and their parents and coaches know that there is much more training and fundraising to be done but this appropriation is a significant step toward ensuring that they will be able to step on the playing field in Texas prepared to compete.”
“I know they will represent American Samoa well as they use this opportunity to pursue their athletic and academic dreams,” he points out.
Samoa Bowl Committee official Peter Gurr told a House hearing in February that the total cost of the Australia trip came to $91,000. The Samoa Bowl Committee sought additional funding from the governor after their fundraising efforts fell short by $30,000, he added.
Gurr said most of the money for the trip was raised by the Bowl Committee, the team and their parents. He also said that the team will again need to raise money for the Texas trip, which could be a little higher due to the cost of airfare.
As for the Faletele funding, the money has been allocated to the Office of Samoan Affairs, the ASG agency that has jurisdiction over the project — it received $250,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. It is scheduled to be dedicated Apr. 16.
Samoan Affairs secretary Lefiti A. Pese testified before a House committee in late February that the $50,000 will help with the finishing work carried out by the Department of Public Works.
The final work includes outside railings, lighting and the sidewalk cement which were not included in the original contract, he said, and revealed that some $15,000 was also collected during a radiothon fund raising activity for the project and this money is held in a bank account to be used for the traditional Samoa customs for the dedication ceremony.
Some lawmakers voted against the bill because of their opposition to using this money for Samoan customs when fundraising was carried out specifically to raise money to complete the project.