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DOC: No authority to evict rent/lease deadbeats

fili@samoanews.com

Department of Commerce deputy director Lelei Peau made clear to lawmakers at yesterday’s Fono Joint budget hearing that DOC does not have the authority to terminate government leases or to evict anyone from government property for failure to make lease and/or rent payments.

A report by the Legislative Financial Office states that the government is owed just over $2 million in outstanding payments for leases and rents. The report says this money could help with government finances.

During the DOC budget hearing yesterday, Rep. Vailoata Eteuati Amituana’i recalled the LFO’s report and asked about the enforcement of collecting these outstanding leases, which is a large dollar amount.

Peau replied that DOC continues to work closely with the Treasury Department and the Attorney General on this important issue and pointed out it’s the Attorney General’s Office that has the enforcement power when it comes to eviction of any tenant, not DOC.

The Deputy Director said this also includes the eviction of tenants at the Tafuna Industrial Park. At least three times during the hearing, Peau gave the same reply — that DOC does not have the authority to evict any tenants for failure to pay rent, as this authority rests with the AG’s Office.

The Tafuna Industrial Park is under the jurisdiction of the DOC and it’s listed in the budget book under Enterprise Funds — which are revenue generating entities of ASG.

Sen. Alo Dr. Paul Stevenson wanted to know if there is any revenue from the Industrial Park that goes towards helping the ASG general fund.

Peau said that to this understanding, all revenues collected at the Industrial Park goes back into the operations and management of this facility. He also said that these revenues may be used – if required — as matching funds for certain federal grants.

In FY 2013, DOC is proposing a $595,000 budget for the Industrial Park, which is officially named “Senator Inouye Industrial Park”, with the bulk of the money, $465,500 for personnel costs of 11 employees, according to the budget book.

The revenue source for the Industrial Park budget is to come from rents and leases at the Industrial Park. The $600,000 revenue projection is based on an average of annual revenue collections, according to the budget book, which also states, that FY 2012’s estimated revenue of $569,748 is based on actual collections of $474,490 as of July 20, 2012.

The budget book also states that in FY 2012, the Industrial Park is “estimated” to get a net income of $210,258 and a “projected” net income of $5,000 in FY 2013.



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