Catholic Social Services waits on $1M payment - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Catholic Social Services waits on $1M payment

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - While the incoming Calvo-Tenorio administration has estimated a $97 million shortfall for the current fiscal year and have made requests that spending be stopped immediately, the outgoing Camacho-Cruz administration has given the green light for pay raises for thousands of Government of Guam workers. While Adelup says the pay raises are long overdue, vendors and non-profit organizations that provide services to the government struggle to pay their employees due to non-payment for services rendered.

Frustration is mounting for non-profit organizations and hundreds of other vendors of the island's public sector that are waiting to be paid for services that have been rendered.  While they're being told the government has a cash flow situation, they question whether now is the right time to be implementing pay raises for GovGuam workers.

Catholic Social Services executive director Diana Calvo has heard the same excuse from the government for the last few months. "What we're always being told is that cash flow is a big issue in terms of how they prioritize the payouts and we try to be very visible and vocal in identifying that the non-profits that provide direct services as a contractor of GovGuam should have one of the higher priorities in the payouts," she told KUAM News.

But because of a lack of payment for services provided, organizations like CSS have been unable to pay their employees. Earlier this month staff received their paychecks a week late and the organization had to seek assistance from the archdiocese that provided a guarantee to the bank that money would be coming in to eventually meet payroll. "They were able to cover the difference for what our payroll was, the balance on our payroll," Calvo added.

And with another payday this week, she's is hopeful the money will be paid on time.  Despite GovGuam workers' having delayed mortgage and loan payments because they're deductions were paid weeks later and agencies like the Department of Education having to use federal funding to cover payroll, Bureau of Budget Management & Research director Bertha Duenas says GovGuam's financial picture isn't as bad as it seems.

"I foresee that by the time the book closes for the quarter we'll probably be ahead by collections as compared to estimates for the quarter by 3-4%," Duenas speculated. She says this means the funding supports the budget, which includes the $13 million appropriation for the implementation of the hay study for classified employees. The governor gave the green light, following an attorney general's opinion last week to implement the raises retroactive to October 1.  

"Sure, we have other obligations out there on the horizon that are impacting this fiscal year," she said.

Unbudgeted obligations include $15 million for health insurance and another $12.2 million for the Mental Health permanent injunction. Duenas says because of its magnitude, the new administration is going to have to identify a new source of revenue.

So why move forward with raises, knowing there are unfunded obligations? "Personally, I believe government employees have waited long enough," Duenas commented. "I believe that's where the governor is coming from. This is something that has been budgeted it's there to implement."

Organizations like Catholic Social Services that are waiting for more than $1 million in invoices meanwhile believe the government's priorities are misplaced and are hopeful the new administration will treat community based services as equally as they do government operations. Said Calvo, "It really does take a lot of expenses to ensure that we continue to provide the services uninterrupted."

While the government identifies funds to make vendor payments, Duenas also confirmed that an additional $1.3 million has been identified to pay out the leave of departing Governor's Office staff and 30+ cabinet members.

That money was not budgeted for in the current fiscal year budget.

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