Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that in a letter dated July 26, 2007 he provided Senator President Lolo Moliga with an update regarding the $16 million Congress set aside at Faleomavaega’s request for village road improvements and other high priority projects. Faleomavaega copied his letter to Senator Inouye, the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Senators, the Speaker and Representatives. The full text of Faleomavaega’s letter is included below.
Dear Mr. President:
In response to your recent inquiry about the $16 million which Congress set aside for village roads and other high priority projects, enclosed is a spreadsheet which shows how the funds will be spent in each county. The spreadsheet also identifies roads within each district where work will occur and shows how much money has been spent or obligated thus far for each project. According to Hawaii’s Division of the Federal Highway Administration, this list was published in the Samoa News on Tuesday, July 17, 2007.
On October 18, 2006, I also wrote to you and provided members of the Fono with detailed information regarding the $16 million set aside. As I stated, in accordance with Public Law 109-59, the American Samoa Government (ASG) will receive $16 million for village roads and other high priority projects. In accordance with Sec. 1934 of PL 109-59 which applies to all States and Territories receiving funds under this section, 10 percent of these funds will be made available in 2005, 20 percent in fiscal year 2006, 25 percent in fiscal year 2007, 25 percent in fiscal year 2008, and 20 percent in fiscal year 2009.
I also informed the Fono that the Hawaii Division of the Federal Highway Administration holds these funds in trust until such time as ASG’s Department of Public Works submits a proposal to begin work on our projects. While ASG’s Department of Public Works cannot use these funds for any other purpose, the Department of Public Works can determine when these funds will be spent between now and 2009. Therefore, since this matter now rests primarily with the local government, I would encourage our Senators and Representatives to hold hearings and work directly with the Department of Public Works to make sure their projects are moving forward.
As I also stated in my letter of October 18, 2006, in addition to the $16 million earmark, Congress also set-aside $3 million for village road improvements in the Central District, $3 million for the Western District, $2.6 million for the Eastern District, and $1.4 million for the Manu’a District. Again, it would be most appropriate for the Fono to hold hearings and call upon the Director of Public Works to explain how these funds are being used although the enclosed chart provided by the Hawaii Division of the Federal Highway Administration shows how our local government has prioritized these funds. Should you have further questions or concerns regarding these funds, I would encourage you to contact the Director of Public Works.
Regarding Saoele district, as you know, the matter of reauthorizing the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) first came before Congress in 2003. In 2003 and in consultation with Governor Togiola, I submitted a general request to the Committee on Transportation for $9.4 million for use in the Eastern, Western, Central, and Manu’a Districts.
In 2004, I submitted a more specific request which divided the funding between the districts. I did this to make sure each district received transportation dollars. In the case of the Eastern District, I requested a $2 million set-aside in which I identified each of the counties, including Saole.
In 2005, I submitted a request to increase funding for the Eastern District from $2 million to $2.6 million. In the course of increasing funding for the Eastern District, my staff made a clerical error when preparing the paperwork and unintentionally omitted Saole among the counties. This error was not purposeful and I accepted full responsibility for this oversight.
Last year, Senator Tuato’o informed me of this oversight and I contacted the
Committee on Transportation and asked that this error be corrected in the next technical corrections amendment bill which would come before the House. While the House failed to pass a technical corrections bill last year, I received word today that the House is moving to pass a bill before the August recess which includes my request on behalf of Saole county.