Mayors ask to spend $1M more

COUNCIL: The Mayors' Council of Guam held its regular monthly meeting on June 4 in Hagåtña. The council is asking the Legislature to authorize a $1.2 million budget increase. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

Citing the need for more personnel, the Mayors' Council of Guam asked lawmakers for a $1.2 million increase in its fiscal 2020 budget, raising its proposed spending to $13.8 million.

Council Executive Director Angel Sablan said Guam's 19 villages altogether have 214 employees including the 19 village mayors, seven vice mayors, and 10 classified central office staff and himself, an unclassified employee.

He said salaries total $7.1 million, plus $2.8 million in benefits. The government's staffing records show in less than a decade, the executive director's base pay jumped 114% from $46,062 in 2011 to $98,937 in the second quarter of 2019. Each mayor's base pay went from $46,062 to $75,000 – a 63% boost. Vice mayors received a 61% boost in pay from $42,264 to $68,000 in annual base pay over the same time frame. Benefits for these officials cost an additional nearly 30 cents for every dollar of base pay.

In addition to the extra funds to hire additional staff, island mayors are seeking an appropriation of $240,000 to repair and renovate 12 senior citizen centers. Sablan said the appropriation would be split evenly at $20,000 per senior center for roof leaks, plumbing issues and air-conditioning problems that have plagued the centers for months.

“The longer we do not attend to these matters, the more costly it will be to fix them,” warned Sablan.

Mayors are also seeking $1.7 million for utilities, which Sablan said is $90,000 lower than the fiscal 2019 funding level.

The council is requesting a $100,000 increase for the streets, maintenance and beautification program in the amount of $922,423. The funds are used for office operations, supplies, contractual services, street maintenance on secondary and tertiary roads and beautification in the villages.

The money is distributed based on the respective populations of each village. Dededo gets the largest share while Umatac gets the smallest share.

“The one-size-fits-all distribution of funds doesn’t seem fair or justifiable to the larger and more populated villages of Dededo, Yigo, Tamuning and Mangilao or the larger land area villages of Yona and Inarajan,” said Sablan.

The mayors have asked lawmakers to resolve the issue and question why the government continues to use a road pavement inventory by Public Works that is already 12 years “behind the times.”

“We have been criticized and castigated because our funding comes more from the Territorial Highway Fund and the Tourist Attraction Fund than the General Fund. This is not of our making nor have we ever requested it be this way,” said Sablan.

He urged lawmakers to correct this, so mayors are no longer “thrown under the bus.”