GLSC presented with options for cuts due to sequester
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Sequestration will have significant impacts on the Guam Legal Services Corporation. Already working on a bare bones budget and trying to deal with an increase in cases representing the underserved population in our community, today the hard truths were presented to the board to decide what cuts will have to be made to keep the Law Center's doors open.
The GLSC needs a miracle in the form of more than $100,000 as sequestration has reduced the organization's grant by 26% and money is running out. "The sequester is not over they will keep deducting 5.1 % every year over and above what is already here," explained GLSC executive director Hank Parker. He told the board today that the cuts are in addition to several federal grants that are in their last year, which will result in the loss of even more funding if additional grant money doesn't come through right away.
Parker told the board the Law Center has already cut back as much as it can. He detailed, "There will be no increments for anyone in the office for the year 2014. We already reduced increments from last year from 4% to 1.5 %, and so there'll be none starting next year. We have discontinued our lawn service so we're going to have happy labor days and come and do the lawn. We've reduced our cleaners from every day of the week to one day a month."
Additional cuts included limiting travel, cutting costs of meetings and activities and cancelling various subscriptions. But the biggest issue that the board will have to deal with in the coming weeks is the impacts the cuts will have on the organization's ability to deliver services.
Three options were presented: a 32-hour workweek that would result in personnel savings of $182,000 and another $28,000 in benefits. This option would ensure GLSC has enough funds to carry over to 2016. "We would be negative in 2017," Parker stated, "meaning we would have to borrow money in order to function in 2017. With a 36-hour workweek we will have a savings of $45,000 and in benefits $23,000 and the funds will only carry us through 2014. We will be negative once we start 2015."
The third option proposes that one employee go on a 36-hour workweek with another agreeing to go on a 20-hour workweek, which would result in $68,000 in personnel savings and another $24,000 in benefits ensuring funds are available to October 2015. Any of the options would begin starting in July.
Parker added the organization will not fill any vacancies, despite only having four attorneys. He added there may also be a need to revise the retirement plan and insurance coverage to help further reduce the costs. As a result of all the cuts, contested cases which make up the majority of their cases will be the most affected followed by protective orders.