$9.3 Million in CIP funds for American Samoa in 2015
American Samoa’s share of federal Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funds being proposed for the new fiscal year 2015 — which begins Oct. 1, 2014 — includes $5 million for economic development, according to a 186-page budget justification document submitted to the U.S. Congress by the Office of Insular Affairs of the U.S. Department of Interior.
CIP allocations are a hotly contested issue between the Fono and the administration, as many lawmakers don't know about CIP funded projects for the next fiscal year until the administration presents to lawmakers the annual budget for review and approval.
By that time, not much can be done by the Fono because CIP projects are already submitted to Congress through OIA’s annual budget submission.
OIA announced last week its FY 2015 proposed budget including $9.3 million in CIP funds for American Samoa, a decrease of $750,000 from current FY 2014.
Funding for CIP projects has three general priority areas, with the first one to include health, safety, education, and utilities. Second order priorities include infrastructure such as ports and roads. Third order priorities include industry, shoreline protection, parks and recreation and other government facilities.
“The objective of this program is to assist American Samoa in providing infrastructure to promote economic development and improve health, education and public safety,” according to the budget justification document, which includes other territories and U.S. freely associated states. For the current fiscal year American Samoa is allocated just over $10.04 million while in 2013 the territory was given $9.96 million.
OIA informed Congress that over the past year, several important CIP projects in American Samoa were completed, including two classroom buildings for Leone High School and the Petesa Happy Valley Road project.
Additionally, LBJ Medical Center “made steady progress” on the renovation and expansion of the dialysis unit and upgrading the electrical system while the American Samoa Power Authority continued connecting homes to the main sewer system in Tualauta county.
OIA also says that ASPA made steady progress on replacing the deteriorated Tramway Water Tank which holds one million gallons, while the American Samoa Community College started construction on its new Multipurpose Building that will be finished by January next year.
NEW FISCAL YEAR CIP
According to the chart of fund allocation, the largest appropriation of $5 million of total CIP funds is earmarked for economic development, followed by $2 million for health; $594,180 for water; $500,000 for roads; $295,000 for ‘public buildings’ and $350,000 for Port.
Under the brief description of the proposed CIP funding there was no clear explanation on the $5 million for economic development, however, it does say Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has “requested that an additional $2 million be set aside for necessary upgrades to the MV Sili, a critical vessel that transports goods, services, and passengers to and from the Manu’a Islands.”
“The upgrades are needed to ensure proper use, safety, and compliance with [U.S.]Coast Guard requirements,” it says.
(Samoa News understands that money proposed for the MV Sili upgrade is part of the $5 million for economic development.
And, in his State of the Territory Address in January this year, the governor told the Fono that a proposed $2.5 million investment of FY 2015 CIP Funds will be dedicated to the refurbishing of the 1,000-ton slipway to provide more earning capacity for the Ronald Reagan Marine Railway shipyard, dedicating its use to smaller vessels while the main slipway is occupied with large purse seiners.)
For the $2 million proposed for Health, the justification document says this money will be utilized to design and renovate the Labor, Delivery, Nursery, and Operating Suites at the LBJ Medical Center. “The new facility will improve patient services and help the medical center meet life safety code requirements and requirements of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,” it says.
The $500,000 allocated for roads is for the purchase of heavy equipment for the Department of Public Works, which is in need of a new backhoe, excavator, and street sweeper to provide proper maintenance to territorial roads.
Further the $350,000 requested for port, will help the airport provide a 5% local match to grant funding awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the federal agency that annually awards approximately $9 to $11 million to American Samoa for continued improvements to its airport.
“FAA grants are used for a wide variety of purposes, but mainly to construct and enlarge runways, provide necessary equipment, and build airport facilities,” OIA says.
ASG requested under the CIP grant, a 1% set-side (or $92,970) to fund a new CIP Administration Office within the American Samoa Government. “The CIP Office will be responsible for overseeing and managing the CIP Program by ensuring that all projects comply with federal grant requirements,” it says.
Last November, the governor designated his Special Project Coordinator, Tuimavave Tauapa’i Laupola as CIP administrator, whose responsibilities include coordinating all the CIP submissions from government agencies; ensuring that submitted CIP from all government agencies comply with the project format required by the DOI; and that all submissions be presented to the CIP committee, chaired by Lt. Lemanu Peleti Mauga for review and determination before being submitted to the governor for approval.
Tomorrow’s edition will include other information on American Samoa included in the justification budget document.