Port making move on retroactive raises

PORT: The Port Authority of Guam administration building is seen in March in Piti. Post file photo

The Port Authority of Guam board of directors passed a resolution Wednesday directing its general manager to take actions necessary regarding the retroactive salary adjustments made to former General Manager Joanne Brown.

Brown now serves as a Republican senator in the Legislature.

Earlier this year, current Port General Manager Rory Respicio requested that the Attorney General issue an opinion on the retroactive salary adjustments for Brown based on the findings of a performance audit conducted by the Guam Office of Public Accountability, the Port stated in a press release. 

On Nov. 9, the Port received an opinion memorandum issued by the Office of the Attorney General and the AG’s office enclosed its Nov. 1 Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority opinion on illegal retroactive pay raises and directed the Port legal counsel to determine the validity and legality of the past actions by the PAG board of directors with respect to Brown’s salary adjustments, the Port stated.

That Nov. 1 GHURA opinion from the AG essentially stated that no retroactive pay raises are allowed for unclassified GovGuam employees or officers unless specifically authorized by law. 

According to the release, the Port determined that about eight pay adjustments for Brown contained "illegal retroactive payments worth thousands of dollars, all in violation of Guam law." 

These pay adjustments had effective dates between December 2012 and December 2017. The amounts were not available in the Port release.

Brown issued a brief response to the release, indicating that salaries were board decisions and that she would issue a statement Monday.

"The board relied on counsel's report to task the general manager in seeking criminal prosecution to those who violated Title 4 GCA § 2103.14 (Retroactive Pay) and Title 4 GCA § 6218.1 (Prohibition on Retroactive Pay Raises)," Brown told The Guam Daily Post. "Board members, rather than general managers, vote on salary matters. On Monday, I will issue a statement and will submit to interviews from members of the media who have read my statement."

The Port release focused on Brown but did not specifically name any deputy general managers. However, Respicio confirmed Port officials also would be looking into pay for the deputies, as per the board's instructions. 

In February this year, the OPA also released an audit that found a rehired employee was overpaid $114,000. This was the first in a series of audits investigating back wages provided to nine current and former employees, including those known as the Port 7. The next in the OPA series may come next month. 

Based on some matching documentation, it appears the reportedly overpaid employee was Jose Guevara.

Current Port management had disagreed with the majority of the OPA's findings, including that the employee was overpaid in interest.

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