GFD’s Future: Down 2 Fire Stations, 1 Rescue Unit, 1 Advanced Life Support Unit
July 13, 2018
Hagåtña – On Oct. 1, 2018, unless the sales tax remains in place or a funding source is found to fill the near $160 million revenue gap, everything changes, and the Guam Fire Department is no different.
The revenue gap created by the Federal Tax Cuts should not effect Fiscal Year 2019, which begins in October. But we are again on the precipice of a crisis because 11 senators decided to repeal the sales tax without providing an alternate funding source. Their actions threaten the funding levels for the next fiscal year, which created a third option for budget levels for all agencies.
If faced with an “Option 3” budget, the Guam Fire Department may have to layoff 76 firefighters and six civilian employees, which will hinder the department’s ability to provide emergency services to the island.
These layoffs could lead to the closure of two fire stations; critical services like the Rescue Unit and Advanced Life Support Unit; and the Fire Prevention Bureau, which issues the Fire Code permits necessary for the construction of new buildings and renovations. GFD also won’t have any administrative support, which takes care of payroll, human resources and supply.
The repeal of the 2% sales tax means GFD may be shorted another $9 million. Don’t take our word for it – Speaker BJ Cruz has pleaded with his colleagues in open session warning them that the financial shortfall caused by the Federal Tax Cuts & Jobs Act is very, very real.
“We won’t be able to sustain our current level of public service under Option 3,” Acting Fire Chief Joey San Nicolas said. “We can’t take the cut without cutting services to our community.”
The Governor, Speaker Cruz, Public Auditor Brooks, financial experts agreed that there should be some revenue solution to fill the gap created by the federal tax cuts — with the understanding that cuts also have to be made.
Even armed with this information, Senators Tom Ada, Frank Aguon Jr., Dennis Rodriguez Jr., Telena Nelson, Regine Biscoe Lee, Joe S. San Agustin, Therese Terlaje and the bill’s author, Michael San Nicolas, Republican Sens. James Espaldon, Mary Torres and Fernando Esteves repealed the sales tax — which also stripped away $40 million for the Guam Memorial Hospital and the Department of Education. And they didn’t put forth a revenue source to address the shortfall.

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