Tax records reveal GovGuam recognizes private ownership of sewage plant property

Lying to a court can land the everyday Joe in jail. Despite this, GovGuam has been telling a court it owns Lot 10184-7 in Ukudu while assessing a private owner taxes on it since 2016.

GovGuam has recognized Core Tech International as the owner, or ‘assessee,’ of the property for the past six years, according to the government of Guam’s annual Real Property Tax Assessment Roll. This directly contradicts its assertions to the Superior Court of Guam in a 2018 case it filed asking the court to change a certificate of title and name Guam Waterworks Authority as the owner of the property.

GWA wants to quiet title on Lot 10184-7 in its name, because the Northern District Wastewater Treatment Plant it uses and operates on that property. The problem GWA has, is that CTI paid more than $100 million for that and the surrounding properties in 2015. A mortgagee’s deed validly filed at the Department of Land Management bares this out. And on November 30, 2021, Judge Elyze Iriarte issued a decision and order questioning whether GWA has the right to use or occupy that land.

Throughout the case, which is ongoing and for which GWA has asked the Guam Supreme Court to step in, both GovGuam and GWA have told the court CTI does not own the land.

“GWA sought summary judgment on grounds that Core Tech does not own the land where the Plant is located,” GWA’s attorneys wrote to the high court at the start of this year.

Despite what the government has told the court, it has – since 2015 and continuing through the period of the litigation – named CTI as the owner of the property, the assessee of real property taxes on that property, and has assessed taxes on CTI for that property. The company has been paying the taxes.

According to the Real Property Tax statute at Chapter 24, Title 11, GCA: “§ 24324. Index of Roll. The assessor shall prepare an index to the roll showing the name of each assessee and each page where an assessment to him appears or each number under which an assessment to him appears and shall prepare a duplicate roll for each municipality, showing the property assessed therein.”

The ‘assessor,’ according to the law, is the director of revenue and taxation. The current director is Dafne Shimizu.

Documents show GovGuam knows CTI is owner

Dafne Shimizu

Kandit last week sent Ms. Shimizu a Freedom of Information Act request for each page of the annual Index to the Roll pertaining to Lot 10184-7 since 2002. That was the year the U.S. Navy quitclaimed its interest in Lot 10184-7 to the government of Guam. In 2006, GovGuam quitclaimed the property to the estate of Jose Martinez Torres. The following year, the Torres estate sold the property to Kil Koo Yoon, who then transferred the property to his company, Younex, in 2008.

“There are no records available for the years 2002 through 2008,” according to Ms. Shimizu’s letter disclosing the documents Kandit requested. Coinciding with the year following Younex’s acquisition of the property, DRT began to provide an assessed value on Lot 10184-7; and from the Index of the Roll from 2009 to 2015, GovGuam named the owner of that land as the Naval Government of Guam. GovGuam did not assess taxes on the ‘owner’ during those years.

However, beginning in 2016 – the year after CTI acquired the property – the government of Guam named CTI as the owner, and began assessing and collecting taxes on the property from CTI. According to the disclosed records, GovGuam has recognized this ownership and assessed and collected the corresponding taxes every year since, except in 2018. That was the same year GovGuam filed its lawsuit against CTI, claiming CTI did not own the property.

Despite its claim to the court, GovGuam continued to name CTI as the owner of the property, and assess and collect taxes from the company in 2019, 2020, and the latest tax year, 2021.

Click here to read the Tax Assessment Roll relative to Lot 10184-7

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