Agriculture staffers wait for paychecks - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Agriculture staffers wait for paychecks

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - With Christmas around the corner, money is tight for many. For some, even more so. Some government employees who say they are putting in the hours but not getting paid. As such, the state of the local government's finances is hitting too close to home for many this holiday season.

From nude photos on the Internet, to unpaid workers, a $4.4 million federally-funded program to decrease land erosion that destroys reefs - the Department of Agriculture continues to be at the center of controversy. First just last week special projects coordinator for the Cetti Bay Mitigation Project, Jay Quinata was removed from his position for allegedly having naked photos of a woman on his computer. Now, employees under the program are claiming they aren't getting paid on time.

Kulian Salil has worked at the agency for two years in mostly the nursery planting and bushcutting position. "When I ask my payment, they say that will get later, but not this time. Since our paper not yet signed, I think that's it," he explained.

That is it, according to Joseph Mafnas, Forestry Division chief under the agency. He says the employees' personnel paperwork was submitted to the Budget Office on October 18, almost two months ago. "We already submitted all of the GG1s for processing, so it's out of our hands," he said.

But the paperwork stalled along the way and the Department of Administration, where the checks are cut and hadn't received the proper paperwork.  Forestry employee Mark Yanruw says he has been waiting since November 24 to get paid, adding, "Yeah, man – it's Christmas, it sucks."

Yanruw says his contract expired on November 23. "When their contract is up for renewal, we execute the GG1 one month in advance, so there is no delay. Once we get the GG1 out of our office, you know we can't control that process outside of our office," he said."

At the Bureau of Budget Management & Research we were told the employees' paperwork was cleared on December 2 and sent to the Governor's Office. Tony Santos, administrative services officer at the Department of Agriculture, told KUAM News the employees were told today - after our visit - to hand-deliver the paperwork to DOA so their paychecks can be processed. "Then they going to back pay me what they haven't paid me so," he said.

How soon he will see that paycheck is unclear. We were unable to get information from DOA on when the checks would be cut.

As for Quinata - the Department of Agriculture has submitted more paperwork to BBMR in order to replace him. He is at this time not facing any criminal charges. According to acting director Joaquin Naputi.  "There are no criminal charges filed, so it's just to make sure all the reports have been completed by employees who witnessed the situation."

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