Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (July 2, 2010) - Elected officials need to become much more fiscally responsible and must end their practice of spending beyond the government’s means.

In fiscal 2009, elected officials spent US$92.9 million more than the government of Guam received in revenues. Revenue fell short of projections, with the local government collecting US$30 million less than expected.

But even if revenues had met expectations, elected officials still would have overspent by US$62.9 million.

One of the problems, which was made clear by Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks, is that elected officials continue not to budget for expected expenses. These include interest on tax refunds, credit card charges, bank fees, interest on cost-of-living-allowance payments and interest payments to the Retirement Fund. Most of these items are recurring payments, Brooks said.

"When are you going to budget for these items?" the public auditor asked.

Senators and the governor need to answer this question, especially as they work on the budget for fiscal 2011.

This community needs for its elected officials to spend our tax money in a responsible manner. That means finding ways to control spending and cut costs. It means including all foreseeable costs in the budget instead of ignoring those expenses.

Elected officials need to focus limited government resources on the services that are top priorities for the community -- such as public health care, education and public safety. They must look at expanding outsourcing opportunities, which not only reduce government costs but also provide new revenue in the form of taxes and fees.

There must be a real effort to consolidate services and job functions to reduce duplicative tasks within the government, and technological upgrades made that allow work to be done using fewer people.

The coming military buildup will mean a huge infusion of cash to government coffers. But that money isn’t here yet, so elected officials must spend within the means of current government revenues.


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