GHURA staffers next to get salary surge - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GHURA staffers next to get salary surge

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by Heather Hauswirth

Guam - First it was employees at the Guam Power Authority.  Then it was staffers at the Port Authority of Guam. Last week it was the employees at the Guam International Airport Authority, and now KUAM News has confirmed that employees at the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority are the latest government workers anticipating a pay raise.

The raises come at a time when the government is more than $10,000,000 behind in collections, struggles to make payroll every other week, and thousands of public sector workers wait to hear the results of the Hay Study.  You may be wondering how autonomous agencies are able to afford giving raises to their staffers while the government struggles to make payroll and pay its vendors.  For GHURA, apparently they've had the money since last year to implement the raises and officials aren't waiting for the results of the government-wide compensation study. 

The 108 staffers at the agency will get a 10% pay increase starting next pay period.  The GHURA board recently approved the across-the-board raises, even without seeing the results of the government-wide compensation study expected to be released later this month by The Hay Group.

GHURA Executive Director Benny Pinaula says the agency anticipated approving increases when they were working on the budget last year, but with other government agencies struggling to meet payroll and pay vendors, how did GHURA find the money?

"GHURA has the unique ability because it is an autonomous agency we utilize federal funds and don't work off the General Fund," said Pinaula.  "That is one of the benefits of being an autonomous agency. We were proactive last year when we planned the budget."  He added that after several delays in the Hay Study coming out, which was initially anticipated to be released last fall, the board during a meeting last month decided to approve the sweeping increases.

The director couldn't say how much more of an increase would be recommended until the Hay Study is presented to the governor later this month.

Pinaula did say that they know the study will recommend much more than a 10% raise for his staffers, but GHURA will likely only be able to afford raises by giving them incrementally.  "We were able to look at it - we put the set aside because we looked at our operations and had money we could set aside so we did that in the start of our budget," he said.  "What we are looking at is capacity; do we have the capacity to do it? We probably don't have the capacity to do it all in one lump sum, so to minimize liability you probably want to look at a phase in approach."

Pinaula says with the current economic situation, the board and management of the agency is glad they can reward the employees, adding, "The board, myself we are very happy to be able to do this little bit - we've got great employees, we know we are woefully behind the market and just these little steps we are happy to raise the morale of our employees."

GHURA officials estimate that giving the 10% across-the-board pay increase will cost them $200,000.  Agency staffers can expect to see those raises reflected beginning next pay period.

The Hay Study, meanwhile, is expected to be presented to Governor Felix Camacho on April 26, when it is expected to be made public.  The Department of Administration has declined to release the draft findings of the study until the governor is first briefed.

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