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Enterprise Fund and high cost of Hawaii office questioned

fili@samoanews.com

Losses at the ASG Sport Complex office — which oversees the golf course and other public facilities — and the usefulness of the government’s office in Honolulu were some of the issues raised during last Friday’s fiscal year 2013 budget hearing for the Governor’s Office.

SPORTS COMPLEX

According to the budget book, the Sports Complex office total budget stands at $531,500 with 24 employees. This office oversees public facilities such as the Ili’ili Golf Course, Veterans Memorial Stadium and the Fagatogo Pavilion.

The profit and loss statement for this office, which is listed as an Enterprise Fund — a designation given to ASG entities with self-generating revenue — shows that total operating revenue projected in FY 2013 is $353,903 with an estimated $203,903 in revenue collection from fees and $150,000 in ASG subsidy.

However, total expenditures stand at $531,500 with the largest expense of $403,000 going to personnel costs, $68,000 for contractual services and the rest to materials, supplies and other expenditures. The Sports Complex projects a $177,597 loss in FY 2013, according to the budget book.

During Friday’s budget hearing, Rep. Vailoata Eteuati Amituana’i pointed out this loss already forecast for the new fiscal year.

Vailoata noted that even the current and the two previous fiscal years show a loss, based on the profit and loss statement, which states that for the first months of FY 2012, the projected loss was $57,199; in FY 2011 the actual loss is $86,134; and FY 2010 had the actual loss of $215,427.

Vailoata sought an explanation as to where the revenues go which are collected by this office when there is a loss shown in the budget.

Bill Kalasa, who heads the Sport Complex, explained that collections are down, and pointed out that the governor also wanted to order additional golf carts. For example, he said a recent purchase of ten golf carts totaled about $62,000.

“...we collect what we can” in revenues and every year golf carts are ordered but are not on the annual budget, he said.

Vailoata requested, through the chairmen of the joint budget committees, for a report on the breakdown of the public facilities overseen by the Sport Complex and their revenue collections. He also noted with concern that it appears that the golf carts are being ordered but are not on the budget.

Expenditures covered by the ASG subsidy, according to the budget book, include $42,000 to pay local vendors for security and landscaping of the golf course; $24,000 to pay local vendors for landscaping for the Pavilion and Solaita Field; and $2,000 in contracts for plumbing, electronics, etc.

Also covered by the subsidy, is a $1,500 budget for utility charges at the stadium and $24,000 for a pick up truck to maintain facilities at the golf course and stadium.

The Gov. Rex H. Lee Auditorium (fale laumei) is also under the Sports Complex, and there were no questions about its budget or revenue projections during the hearing.

HAWAI’I OFFICE

There were questions from committee members about money allocated to the Amerika Samoa Office in Honolulu, whose budget proposal is $349,500 for four employees, while there are other financial needs in the territory especially when this office is funded with local revenues.

Rep. Faimealelei Anthony Allen led the questions about this office, noting that this is a large amount allocated for just four employees. He pointed to the “All Others” budget item totaling $146,000 and sought an explanation.

The budget book description states that $100,000 is proposed for the office space and parking space rent — an increase of $40,000 from the current fiscal year. The budget states that the monthly rent for office and parking is $5,400.

The Governor’s Chief of Staff, Pati Faiai said it's true that the office has four employees, but pointed out that the office lease, which includes parking, is high in Honolulu. He also noted that there is electricity and other expenses that must be included as part of the budget request.

Other expenditures for the office include $6,000 for annual vehicle insurance as required by Hawai’i law; $10,000 for the office personnel insurance also required by Hawai’i law; and $30,000 for “other miscellaneous supplies”.

Rep. Taotasi Archie Soliai pointed out that the total rent goes up every year. For example, $57,259 was allocated for FY 2012 and then $60,000 for FY 2012. He wanted to know why the increases.

Faiai said they’re doing their best in providing an estimate for the new fiscal year to ensure there are sufficient funds because there are always additional charges that appear in invoices from the Honolulu landlord.

Rep. Toeaina Faufano Autele wanted to know the purpose of this office, and if there are any prepared reports of their operations. He reiterated that the budget request is a huge amount of money.

According to the budget book, this office provides liaison services between the state of Hawai’i and the Executive Office of ASG. Faiai told the committee that this office serves not just the requests and needs of the Governor’s Office, but all of ASG including the Fono. He said several lawmakers have also utilized this office.

And anytime American Samoa needs assistance, the Hawai’i office’s help is sought, he said, adding that this office also helps out with local residents traveling to Hawai’i for medical services by providing our residents with transportation and information they need — although there is no longer a representative in Honolulu for the LBJ off-island referral program.

Toeaina said this is a lot of money spent for the office in Hawai’i when it could be used for local needs or other agencies that are seeking additional funds.

The Hawai’i office was established several years ago and has served as a contact point for Samoans and non Samoans in the U.S. seeking information on and about American Samoa. It also represents the local Executive Office and other interests of ASG.

At one time, it was used to record network television programs in Honolulu which were then aired about two weeks later on KVZK-TV. The head of the office is a political appointee by the sitting governor.



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