Guam Police Department (GPD) and Guam Fire Department (GFD) are already each facing nearly $3 million-worth of cuts because of the federal tax reform. With his bill, Speaker Benjamin F. Cruz will now force some public safety agency employees to work for less pay.
While the roll back of the Competitive Wage Act (CWA) will not affect police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians — it will affect GPD and GFD’s civilian employees. This means if Bill 244 passes, GPD and GFD support staff—such as emergency medical dispatchers and 911 call takers who serve as families’ first contact in emergencies—will be forced to do their jobs at a pay rate that was acceptable in the 90s.
“I sit before you wondering how you would allow these very few individuals to take on a burden that has been placed on the entire island by the federal government across the sea,” GFD Deputy Chief Joey San Nicolas said.
GPD must cut nearly $3 million because of the Tax Act. GPD Chief J.I. Cruz explained this means the department won’t be able to purchase ammunition, radios, and other basic items that are necessary to do their job. GPD also won’t be able to hire more officers or procure fleet vehicles to meet its operational needs.
GFD faces a similar cut. Chief San Nicolas testified the cut may lead to the closing of two fire stations, the discontinuation of some services in the southern part of the island, and a reduction in code inspections and issuance of occupancy permits, which are needed to hold large events such as concerts and charity functions.
While the cuts come as a result of the federal tax reform, GPD and GFD were already cash strapped as a result of the budget the Legislature passed last summer. Both GPD and GFD have recommended increasing their departments’ respective fees and fines to accommodate for the General Fund losses.