Magalei concerned with rushed passage of FAA ‘resolution’

Fono News
fili@samoanews.com

Sen. Magalei Logovi’i noted his concern with the rushed passage of a Senate Concurrent Resolution, which was sought by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga as required for the American Samoa corrective action plan following a 2014 land use audit by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the Pago Pago International Airport.

The Resolution was introduced last Monday in the Senate and was approved the same day by a show of hands. The House passed it the following day.

During last Friday’s Senate session, Magalei says passage of the Resolution was rushed through without the Resolution being assigned to a committee for review, as called for in Senate rules. He says the question is the funding source for the $2.5 million cited in the Resolution and the subsidy is for a 10-year period.

Magalei also pointed out that the Senate Journal, which summarizes what occurred during the session, shows that the vote on the Resolution was unanimous by a show of hands. However, Magalei said he didn’t raise his hand.

As previously reported by Samoa News the land use audit of Pago Pago International Airport found that 325 acres of land included in the original airport layout plan from 1973 have been converted to non-airport use — covering the areas such as the Tafuna Industrial Park.

In order to bring ASG into compliance with the corrective action plan, “It is necessary to submit a land use change request formally seeking release of the land that use restrictions on the 325 acres of non-compliant lands, accompanied by a Resolution confirming that ASG will agree to fund and subsidize operations of Pago Pago International Airport in the amount of $2.5 million per year for a period of 10-years,” according to the Resolution, which didn’t describe the funding source for the subsidy.

However, ASG’s corrective action plan states the subsidy will be funded through direct appropriation from the Legislature as well as earmarks from the hotel tax, clearance fee and other revenue measures enacted into law to support the airport.

The $2.5 million annual payment starts in FY 2017 through 2026. According to the FY 2017 Airport Division budget, $1 million is from general fund subsidy and $367,500 is projected from the hotel tax — giving a total of more than $1.36 million.  So its unclear as to how ASG will come up with the balance of the $2.5 million (about $1.14Mil).

Samoa News notes the $2.5 million dealing with the airport land use audit, is separate from the $2 million — included in the FY 2017 — as local matching for two airport projects —relocation of the airport jet fuel tanks and improvements to the Tafuna airport that will be fully funded by the FAA.

Meanwhile, the FY 2017 budget was passed in second reading in both the Senate and House. Both chambers will have the bill go through third reading today.

TUIASINA SUGGEST SENATORS TRAVEL TO APIA

Sen. Tuiasina S. Esera has suggested a leisure vacation for senators to Apia before their current 4-year term in office officially ends before 12noon on Jan. 3, 2017.

At last Friday’s Senate session Tuiasina says that the current 4-year term for all senators is ending soon and suggested that all senators travel to Apia, adding that there may be money left over in the Senate’s budget to fund the travel for the “tama o le atunu’u” (fathers of the territory).

Thereafter, senator’s return back home to say farewell to each other and then see which senator will be returning next year, he said.

Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao, the Senate President Pro Temp, responded that the suggestion would be relayed to the Senate President.

SENATE PASSES HANDICAP PARKING BILL

In a unanimous vote on Thursday, the Senate passed in third reading an administration bill which allows police officers to ticket drivers or the registered owners of vehicles unlawfully parked in disabled parking stalls. Additionally, the bill authorizes the Office of Protection and Advocacy for the Disable to issue tickets to violators as well as imposing new penalties for violators. The Senate version of the bill now goes to the House for consideration.

The House has its own version of the bill, which was approved Thursday in second reading after it was amended to delete OPAD from being involved in issuing tickets. The House bill is expected to go through third and final reading this week.

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