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No money for law enforcement pay raises

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by Nick Delgado

Guam - In 2008 it became law for all law enforcement personnel to receive a 10% pay increase at the beginning of every year for four years. But it seems the Government of Guam may not have enough funds to follow that law.

The Bureau of Budget Management & Research office is meeting officials with the special economic services this week in hopes to iron out the details of the Fiscal Year 2011 budget for GovGuam. However, BBMR Director Bertha Duenas does not see light at the end of the tunnel, most especially for the island's law enforcement personnel.

"The government is going to proceed in 2011, essentially status quo, so what does that mean, anything new may not happen like the third increment of law enforcement pay raise," said Duenas.

It became law in 2008 that all law enforcement personnel get a 10% pay raise. For the past two years GovGuam struggled to meet the demands, and Duenas says for this year it may not even happen.  "When we did the projection back in January, it was based on what we expected for this fiscal year and it isn't happening, so obviously there is going to be some adjustments," she said.  "I don't have any reaction, kind of use to that kind of news every year."

Some police and fire officials tell KUAM News that they feel this issue comes around every year and that this is just a political game since it's an election year, and the community shares their frustration.

Betwin Alokoa said, "I think it's about time that they compensate our safety officers, our law enforcement officers because we need them and they deserve the pay", with Jesus Cepeda adding, "They have to alleviate some more employees, and maybe the governor needs to try and get some more funding."

Ike Pangelinan said, "There's absolutely no excuse that these people should be no money because from what I hear there's about 25-30 burglaries homes in Guam everyday and if your going to pass the budget, pass it where your going to give the law enforcement guys resources."

In the meantime, Duenas says the possible hold on the third increment of the 10% pay raise reflects off of the $586 million budget request from GovGuam.  "$586 million, and it needs to go down to $540 million ($530 million potentially)," said Duenas.  "That's just a number that we're at right now, it could change up or down."

Law enforcement oversight chair Senator Adolpho Palacios meanwhile, is not too worried about the possibility of the 10% not being given out this year. He says he is confident that once funds are identified, then the employees will receive retroactive pay.

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