The House Committee on Natural Resources rejected Tuesday a proposal to extend for 15 years the lease agreement of a telecommunications company on three properties.
The Natural Resources Committee chaired by Rep. Alice Igitol (R-Saipan) voted 5-1 to reject the proposed extension contract of Pacific Telecom Inc., which does business as IT&E, for public lands in Garapan, As Gonno, and Chacha.
IT&E hired a third-party appraiser for the lands and it came out with its own report on April 24, 2018. IT&E then submitted the same appraisal report to the Legislature.
The contract IT&E previously proposed did not include the results of the third-party appraisal, whose appraisal was a lot higher than the appraisal report in 2015, upon which the IT&E contract is based on.
“The new appraisal…[should] be included in the extension contract,” said Igitol in an interview just after rejecting the extension contract.
“We are going to go back and renegotiate so that the new appraisal would be included.”
According to documents shared with Saipan Tribune, the appraisal report posed significant increases in land value compared to figures in 2015.
The Chacha lot appraisal saw a $62,000-increase from $75,000, and was appraised at $137,000 in 2018. The As Gonno lot saw a $57,000-increase from the 2016 appraisal of $105,000, appraised at $162,000 in 2018, while the Garapan lot saw a $22,000-increase over a 2015 appraisal of $184,000, this time appraised at $206,000 in 2018.
Igitol said negotiations for extension of public land lease with IT&E should now use the 2018 third-party appraisal report.
“It is an increase in lease rental,” said Igitol, noting a report of the Legislature’s fiscal analyst indicating at least 43-percent increase and up to 85-percent increase on lease rental compared to the Department of Public Lands and IT&E proposal for extension.