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  • By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

$6.9 million siphoned off highway fund

The government of Guam siphoned off $6.9 million from the Guam Highway Fund and used it for non-related purposes in fiscal 2018, according to the Office of Public Accountability.

The diverted amount accounted for 30 percent of GHF expenditures, which totaled $15.9 million for the audit period.

GHF was created for road maintenance and implementation of highway safety plans, programs and projects.

OPA’s audit, however, found that GovGuam has tapped into it for the following purposes: the Mayors Council of Guam operations, $5.8 million; Better Public Service Fund, $975,000; and Office of Civil Defense operations, $129,000.

OPA noted a similar practice found in fiscal 2017, when GovGuam transferred $2 million from the GHF to the general fund.

GHF revenues increased by $2.9 million or 14 percent from $20.3 million in FY 2017 to $23.1 million in FY2018 due to the 4-cent per gallon increase in liquid fuel taxes which took effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

While revenues climbed, total expenditures went up by $1.4 million or 7 percent, from $21.4 million in FY 2017 to $22.8 million in FY 2018.

“This was primarily due to the increased appropriations authorized by the Guam Legislature,” OPA said.

Of the $22.8 million total expenditures, $15.9 million or 70 percent was transportation or highway related. These included Department of Public Works’ bus operations, transportation, maintenance operations, and public streetlight operations of $11.1 million, Guam Regional Transit Authority of $3 million, and Guam Police Department Highway Patrol Division of $1.5 million.

The Capital Projects Fund reported a fund balance of $176,000 with little to no movement in the past few years. There are seven projects for bus repairs and street repairs with a budget of $2.6 million. There were no expenditures in FY 2018 for any of the seven projects.

According to the audit report, GHF ended fiscal 2018 with a $321,000 increase in fund balance, an improvement from fiscal 2017’s decrease of $1.1 million.

Independent Auditors Deloitte & Touche rendered a clean opinion on GHF’s financial audit.

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