How to cutback an already-bare bones budget? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

How to cutback an already-bare bones budget?

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - Monday was the deadline government agency directors and administrators have to turn in their reports on how to cut costs and generate revenue within their respective agencies. Several weeks ago the governor signed an executive order requiring his cabinet to turn in these reports at the end of this month.

How do you cut back when you're already dealing with a bare bones budget? It's a question that was posed to each Government of Guam director who had to submit cost cutting reports to the governor today.

It was Governor Eddie Calvo's first executive order - an effort to stop runaway government spending as the government's true fiscal situation was being assessed.  Saying he would not jeopardize government jobs and public services by allowing the fiscal condition to persist, Calvo called on his cabinet to reassess their agency operations and budgets and reduce costs, enhance efficiency and identify revenue enhancement initiatives.

But the task has proven to be a challenge for many government agencies like the Department of Public Works, already trying to sustain operations with dwindling resources. Director Joanne Brown says many of the divisions in her agency are already not receiving adequate funding, so trying to identify cost cutting measures is impossible.

For other agencies like the Department of Land Management, they only had one option.  Director Anisia Terlaje says the agency's rental costs increased by more than a hundred percent in July of last year from $25,000 a month to $58,000. While Land Management must honor its current lease, Terlaje has found a way to cut back significantly on the space requirements for the agency, which she says could result in rental costs of only $11,000 a month - a savings of more than $47,000 every month and more than a half-million dollars each year.

For Customs and Quarantine (which generates its own revenues), director Ralph Sgambelluri says the agency has cut back on everything from supplies and equipment to consolidating rent and no longer having to pay for power. Although they had planned to start a new academy with 50 people to assist with current manpower shortages, Sgambelluri says the agency will have to decrease that to 17 people.

All of the cost-cutting reports will be compiled by the Bureau of Budget and Management Research in a report for the governor. The Calvo Administration is hopeful that cost-cutting measures included in the reports turned in late this afternoon will result in savings that will among other things, help to reinstate the Hay Study that was frozen earlier this month for government workers.

Meanwhile the BBMR director is still waiting on more information and verification of the budget shortfall for this fiscal year.

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