ARPA Oversight Office updates Budget Committee on funding availability
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Legislature’s FY 2024 Budget and Appropriations Committee has received more information from the ARPA Oversight Office.
ARPA personnel were called to a hearing before the Committee on August 24, 2023.
However during their testimony then, regarding the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, the ARPA, the administration team was asked by the Committee to provide information concerning personnel costs after the availability of COVID-19 funds.
ARPA’s Keith Gebauer’s of letter of September 11, 2023, in response to the Committee, said there are dual challenges — personnel to implement and execute the projects and the sustainability of these added personnel costs after the funding expires or is fully utilized.
“In order to best address these dual challenges, we have set clear expectations of the limits on the use of SLFRF funding and set reasonable standards for administrative costs (including personnel) to assist our sub- recipients with their planning and implementation proposals.”
To meet these challenges, the office has set up a cap of 10% for administrative costs where each recipient is given a set expiration date and most personnel costs are covered by ARPA funds. Any exceptions are emergency hires of DPS safety officers.
As for sub-stations, DPS was awarded a Public Building award, which includes repairs/ renovations.
According to the letter the award amount was $450,000 and the proposal includes $300,000 for renovations/ repairs at the three substations — Tafuna, Fagaitua and Fagatogo.
The letter also indicated that a Customs vessel purchase did not meet the eligibility criteria.
WATER IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS
The ASPA Water Salinity Reduction Project has a funding amount of $1.8 million.
This project involves the design, supply, permitting, installation and commissioning of a new desalination system on Aunuu Island and Reverse Osmosis systems for wells in Aua, Pago Pago, Fagaitua, Aoa and Alao.
The project is meant to improve the water quality and system pressure for Aunuu Island and the Eastside of Tutuila Island as well as assure protection of drinking water from contaminant intrusion and remain in compliance with EPA drinking water standards and requirement.
The construction of a desalination plant in Aunu'u Island: It will enable consistent drinking water supply and good quality drinking water to the 500 residents on island, as well as fire demand storage. The design, permitting, supply and delivery of the desalination facility materials and components as well as installation and commissioning will be advertised for technical proposals and bid submissions. The mobilization and construction of this facility will be carried out by ASPA in-house construction division.
Eastside of Tutuila Island Problem Statement: Customers on the eastern side of Tutuila have been constantly complaining about the “salty” taste of the water and are frustrated by this long-standing issue. The issue stems from high chloride wells supplying this system. This project includes the installation of Reverse Osmosis systems at the east side wells to provide low saline water to the community. Since this will take some time complete, this project will include a short term and long- term solution to the problem in case the Well Exploration program does not pan out. The RO Units will be installed at Aua, Pago Pago, Fagaitua, Aoa and Alao.
The project is currently out for bids for both Aunu’u Desalination System and the new Reverse Osmosis units for Pago Pago, Fagaitua and Alao.
As for the status of tugboats and LCU vessels, the Oversight Office is working with Port (DPA) on compliance requirements and according to DPA they expect the tugboats to arrive before the end of the calendar year.
DOC BUSINESS RECOVERY CAPITAL PROGRAM
Launched January 2022 with an allocated budget of $5 million. The approvals ranged from $50k to 8250k with only 2 receiving the maximum of $500k each. All facilities initially were one year revolver payable on demand. It had only one requirement, which was a 30-day consecutive cleanup or non- usage clause. It could be renewed if the lending need is still warranted and clients comply with all conditions.
“As we approach the one-year revolving term, only 2 were in full compliance and we are working on a renewal of the line for another year. Those not in compliance will have the line commitment cancelled and outstanding termed out until 12/31/26. The rate will increase to 60% and monthly principal and interest will be required.”
As of June 30, 2023, there were a total of 23 active; 2 paid off and closed (not to be renewed); 2 paid off and to be renewed; 1 charged-off; and 1 commitment expired and rescinded.
Total commitments were at $4.25 million against outstanding balances of $3.133 million. The one charge-off totaled $50k with 2 ready for renewal totaled $200k while the non-renewal (due to lack of activity previously) was $300k and one rescission was for $75k.
REMOTE WORK TECHNOLOGY
The need for laptops, tablets, projectors and other tech equipment was raised during the hearing.
The legislature was awarded $731,600.00 under the Public Building/ CBC Award.
This program was developed to strengthen public facilities during COVID-19 pandemic type scenarios so essential government services could still be provided.
The use of funds as requested is eligible but an addendum would need to be provided to reallocate from the approved budget and proposal