FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2012
VIDEO: Governor, Agency Directors Explain Critical Need to Cut Government Spending
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2012
Governor Eddie Baza Calvo and agency directors went on camera recently to explain the critical need for the government of Guam to implement stringent cost cutting measures so they can have the resources to run critical operations.
“We’re in this situation because of three years of bad budgets,” Governor Eddie Baza Calvo said. “Through the administration’s fiscally conservative policies and a reduction in pay for Adelup’s top officials, we’ve been able to realize some savings in the past year-and-a-half. But, in a few short months, the cash shortfall will grow again if more cuts aren’t made to operations. This will threaten our ability to pay the people their tax refunds on time and deliver the mandates services that so many in this community rely on.”
A transcription of the testimony given by the directors is also provided for you to view:
Joanne M.S. Brown, Director of the Department of Public Works, your agency obviously has a lot of needs. What resources do you need for you guys to go out and fix village streets and provide adequate bus services to students and why don’t you have these resources right now?
Well I think obviously the most critical (issues) that face our community everyday is transporting safely our 39,000 children that we transfer for both public and private school. Our challenge right now is to get additional busses online (and) additional bus drivers. I have six bus drivers who will be retiring in the next couple of weeks. So those are critical positions that need to be replaced.
I also need to increase the number of mechanics that we have that maintain the busses primarily also because we have an aging fleet of busses. Right now I have nine mechanics. That is not adequate by any means to take care of the daily requirements to maintain our bus operations.
The issue of secondary roads, it all comes down to money. I think our department has demonstrated recently that when we have funds provided, as in the case of Gil Baza and right now for residents and people driving through the inner villages of Barrigada and starting to see the road repairs and permanent fixes that we’re doing, it’s possible if funding is provided.
Overall there was a previous assessment done on secondary roads on Guam and that price tag is over $800M to even begin to address the types of repairs needed on secondary roads throughout the island. So it comes down to resources. I think it’s important to recognize what the most critical resources are.
Another area we’ll need more support is in our permitting division to be able to accommodate requests that are coming through the office and at the same time just because (of) the growth of major sub division(s) constructed on the island right now. It’s important to have adequate inspectors to ensure the safety and structural integrity of these buildings. So it’s important. There are some very critical divisions of the department where there are only one or two personnel. If that continues we’re going to end up being in a situation where critical services that needed to be provided to the government, we’re not going to be able to do it quite simply because we don’t have the people to do it.
Would you like to see more resources from the government prioritized toward transportation services and construction services?
Very much so. These are areas that have been neglected for a long time. The newest busses in our fleet are seven going on eight years old, the oldest bus at 22 transporting our children. You can’t maintain that without an adequate mechanical staff and continue flow of resources to address maintenance and repair of these busses that can range from battery replacement to major engines that need to be replaced. So definitely if there’s a desire to see these services — everyone is complaining about how they’re not getting the services they need — but at the same time if you think transporting our children safely everyday is a priority, if you think that having safe and decent roads to drive is a priority, if you want to ensure proper government service and timely and quality inspections of our building construction…you need qualified and capable people to do that.
Chief Bordallo, about how many more police officers do you need for an adequate fleet and what would you do, what kind of services more could you provide if you had those additional police officers?
With the police department the mission is to protect and serve the people of Guam. People expect a response from the police department. We have 306 police officers.
With the military buildup, we’re expecting a lot of tourists as tourism is increasing and with that responsibility, our four precincts on the island average about 30 officers per precinct. We need to increase that in terms of personnel. But in order to support that the personnel that we recruit and hire need to be trained so we need the financial support to pay for training of these officers.
An average cycle of 30 recruits annually is what’s going to get us up to par in terms of ensuring we have enough police officers to perform at each of the precincts. And also the police department patrol division isn’t the only function we have at the police department. We have an investigations function, we have also a partial homeland security function too.
In this region of the world with all the security concerns we need to ensure we have those specialized units from marine patrol that have boating to our detectives to our special weapons tactic teams to have the resources to support should anything take place on the island. So, a large force is always expected to be somewhere in the neighborhood for a population 180,000 — about 400 police officers is what’s needed.
And you would have them out on neighborhood patrol, anti-drug activities, anti-family violence activities…
The core of police function is patrol. So they’re going to go out there and make sure our neighborhoods are safe. The additional thing is to make sure our roads are safe, traffic enforcement, to ensure that juvenile crime is reduced and also mentoring and trying to keep that particular problem in the community. Also homeland security mission, to ensure terrorist prevention, our terrorist response and emergency management in terms of natural disasters that Guam might be confronted with.
Benita Manglona, Director of the Department of Administration, exactly how behind are we on tax refunds, how much do we owe?
About $30M. (This is now estimated closer to $40 million)
And that’s TY 2011, and prior?
How much do we need to save up (from now) (until) now and December of 2013 to pay for 2012 refunds and to save up the provision for 2013.
For the 2012 provision we should’ve saved up $105M and we have not done that. And then for 2013 tax year refund that would be around $100M.
So we’re looking at saving around $235M between now and Dec. 2013 we need to save. What’s our cash flow like?
That’s correct. It’s very difficult because of the deficit that has accumulated over the last several years and the over projection of revenues. That’s the primary reason we went to float the $344M bond to try and catch up on tax refunds and pay the taxpayers their refunds that are due to them.
If we don’t cut spending under the governor’s plan right now in order to afford the payment of tax refunds, will we have enough to pay our employees up to market standard, with the Hay Plan, the 20% law enforcement, plus the resources we need at DPW, GPD, DOC, and DOE?
No we don’t. If we don’t cut spending, there are going to be some departments that won’t be funded if we have to pay the tax refunds.
How difficult is it to talk to directors at the different departments about what they cannot have on a daily basis?
It is difficult but they have been understanding of the needs of this government. Theyre in line with the administration on how we’re trying to right size this government.
Contact Phillip Leon Guerrero at 929-7467 or Natalie Quinata at 488-6013 for more information.
Keep in touch with Governor Calvo: