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Gov talks of shifting some jobs to fed funding

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has recommended that certain positions be shifted to federally funded programs if permitted, saving limited local revenue, which will be used to pay off an estimated $44.5 million deficit the government has already forecast for the current fiscal year. Lolo made the revelation in a Feb. 3 memo titled “Travel Policy” to all agency and department directors, who were reminded of the memorandum, issued Jan. 4, titled “cost containment measures” which requires all travel requests to be approved by the governor based on justification when it comes to travel funded by federal grants. At the same time, a freeze was place on travel funded by local revenues due to the uncertainty of ASG finances.Despite this travel policy already in place, Lolo said in his Feb. 3 memo to his cabinet that some directors are still requesting travel funded by local funds. He said ASG’s financial position “is very fragile” and ASG “is in the red by $44.5 million which includes the accumulation of past and projected current deficit”.“This deficit will be retired from local funds, not federal resources, hence, we must be vigilant in saving local revenues,” he said. “The recommendation was made to shift positions to federally funded programs if permitted under grant terms and conditions with the inherent objective of saving local revenues.”“Our individual tax revenues have been downgraded given the continuing deterioration in our economic base and the reciprocal rise in the unemployment rate,” Lolo said and noted that his latest memo is to “reaffirm compliance” with the Jan. 4 memorandum. “...please take bold action, by your assuming the responsibility to advocate adherence,” Lolo told cabinet members. In his State of the Territory Address to lawmakers last month, Lolo said total projected local revenue of $93.44 million for basic operations included an inflated revenue forecast from individual taxes by $5.02 million. Therefore projected local revenue projections have been revised downward by $5.02 million for the rest of the fiscal year. ACTING DIRECTOR DESIGNATIONAlso issued this week is a memo from the governor to his cabinet regarding the designation of acting directors for ASG agencies and departments. Lolo said that he has the authority under the constitution to make the designation.“Until such time I officially appoint a deputy director for your agency or department, appointing an acting director to assume leadership during your absence from the territory or incapacitated due to illness will be my responsibility,” he wrote. Accordingly, one week before the scheduled departure from the territory, the director is to submit to the Governor’s Office for review and approval, the director’s recommendation of the individual to take over leadership duties. Thereafter, Lolo will issue an official decision designating the acting director, according to the memo, which urged cabinet directors for full adherence to procedure.