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DOC requests to reprogram over $1 mil in CDBG funds

blue@samoanews.com

The Dept. of Commerce is seeking to reprogram over $1 million from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program for program years (PY) 2011, 2012, and 2013, with the Pago Pago Youth Center being one of projects to lose funding if the request is successful.
 
A request will be submitted to the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Community Planning and Development to reprogram approximately $1,021.952 from the CDBG for the construction of the new Leone Midkiff School Building.
 
The funds to be reprogrammed were previously allocated for the following projects:
 
▪                CDBG PY 2012 Administration            $68,784
           
▪                Pago Pago Youth Center            $100,000
    
▪                Small Business Incubator            $135,000
           
▪                Convention Center            $115,577
          
▪                Small Business Loan Program            $602,591
            
▪                TOTAL $1,021,952
              
In compliance with the citizen participation requirements, the public is invited to comment on these projects during normal business hours at the DOC office in Utulei. Comments must be submitted in writing and forwarded to CDBG Manager Lina Petaia, or CPD Coordinator Petti Matila by Friday, March 7 at 4 p.m.
 
According to a DOC official, the reprogramming of funds is necessary because the money has to be spent in a certain amount of time and the Leone Midkiff Project is one of “urgent need”. The proposed building will include classrooms and a new cafeteria.
 
Yesterday, Samoa News received inquiries from people wondering about the status of the Pago Pago Youth Center, now that the $100,000 allocated for the project is being reprogrammed to the Leone Midkiff Project.
 
When contacted for comments, a DOC official explained “there are so many issues surrounding the process,” adding that for the Youth Center in particular, DOC was informed the project no longer needed funds from the CDBG.
 
(The Indonesian government has pledged $300,000 to fund the construction of the new Youth Center and the American Samoa Government will be putting up $300,000 of its own for the project. ASG's share comes from the reprogramming of monies from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for projects that did not meet certain deadlines. The project was estimated to cost $700,000, hence the $100,000 from the CDBG).
 
But there were requirements that had to be met in order for the $100K to be released for the Youth Center project. For example, since HUD is the grantor, contractors have to be able to provide a 100% surety bond. In this case, Samoa News understands the surety bond requirement wasn’t something that could be easily tackled and therefore, DOC was told that CDBG funds would no longer be needed for the project.
 
A DOC official said yesterday that the reprogramming of previously allocated funds from the aforementioned projects doesn’t mean they aren’t going to put money in for those projects but instead, “we are just taking money for now, and reprogramming it to a project that needs it.”
 
For the Leone Midkiff Project, no contract has been awarded yet.
 
Samoa News understands discussions are still ongoing between DOC, the Governor’s Office and the Procurement Office.



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