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Legislative Finance Office only has contract workers on staff

Rendering of the proposed new Fono Building. [SN file photo]
This includes two janitors and 11 “maintenance” men

The total budget for “personnel services” for the Legislative Finance Office (LFO) for fiscal year 2018 is $841,500 for 35 employees. And it is broken down in quarterly apportionments (every three months) of $210,375

Samoa News has obtained a copy of the Fono’s final FY 2018 budget, which shows that every person working for the LFO is on contract – there are no career service employees and this includes “maintenance” men and janitors.

The highest paid employee is the Legislative Financial Officer who earns $65,000 followed by the Deputy Legislative Financial Officer who makes $58,000

The Senate Finance Officer gets paid $40,000, while the office manager/ secretary and the “superintendent” earn $38,000 each.

The position of “Clerk II” gets paid $35,000, while four employees – LFO analyst IV, computer technician I, computer technician III, and staff accountant – all make $30,000 each.

Another LFO analyst and an LFO computer analyst earn $25,000 a piece.

Three positions noted with salaries of $20,000 each are: computer technician, LFO analyst, and maintenance man. But there are eleven other maintenance men earning between $10,000 and $16,000, according to the budget summary.

Altogether, there are a total of three LFO analysts, all earning different amounts, and three computer technicians, earning a combined total of $80,000.

The position of “lead carpenter” is noted as making $18,000 while a research analyst is getting paid $16,920.

A “watchman” earns $16,000 and there are two clerks getting paid $16,000 each, much higher than the ‘mechanical engineer’ who is noted as making $11,000.

There are two janitors – one making $15,000 while the other earns  $10,000, the same amount is being paid for two “page” positions.

Then there is a security officer, who is getting paid $15,000.

The salaries of a maintenance man and a page ($10,000 each) are noted in the “other change” section of the budget and deducted from the amount of “total salaries”. It is assumed that these two positions are no longer filled, as the total number of employees, according to the budget summary, has decreased from 37 to 35.

Altogether, salaries amount to $773,920 but add on $67,331 in fringe benefits, and the total personnel costs amount to $841, 251 which – rounded to the nearest $500 (as noted in the budget document) – totals $841,500. Samoa News should point out that fringe benefits are usually for career service workers, not contract workers.

In the meantime, Samoa News has been unable to confirm the status of one of the vehicle’s noted as belonging to the LFO. Based on the budget summary, only one of the two vehicles – purchased for a total amount of $47,350 – is listed as a “Local & DOI vehicle”.

No vehicles are noted under the “federal grants and other funds (vehicles)” so it is unclear how the other vehicle was purchased.

The fiscal year 2018 budget — $394.76 million — was signed by Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga on Sept. 30th. After he line-item vetoed amendments made by the Fono, Lolo returned the legislature's budget to the original proposed FY 2018 budget of $6,916,500

Many questions from the public — both here and off island — have surfaced since Samoa News started publishing the Fono's 2018 budget last Friday.

For example, because the Fono's budget is funded with local taxpayer dollars alone, community members are wondering why there is a need for a budget of nearly $7 million when clearly, there is nowhere for all the budgeted employees to carry out any work, as the main Fono building was leveled earlier this year and sessions have been held at the Fale Laumei for the House, and the Samoan guest sale for the Senate.

Only a handful of vehicles are seen parked at the Fono parking lot daily.

According to the budget, there are 77 people being paid by the House of Representatives, 35 are working for the Legislative Finance Office, 84 in the Senate, and 24 are covered under the Legislative Reference Bureau. That’s a total of 220 employees, not counting the senators and faipule themselves; and with the Fono out of session until January 2018 — where exactly all these employees are working is unknown.