During the budget hearing held earlier today with Guam’s Environmental Protection Agency G.E.P.A reported that they are under 50% of their staffing needs.
PNC’s Damen Michael has this story
During the hearing, GEPA expressed their concerns about a shortfall within their agency in regard to their staffing patterns. According to the deputy administrator Michelle Lastimoza, GEPA fully staffed would cost approximately 7.3 million dollars, currently, they have approximately 5.7 million in funding which leaves them with a 1.5 million shortfall. She added, that GEPA has only 41 filled positions out of 94 which results in less than half of the staff needed to fully operate the agency.
According to senator Sabina Perez, the oversee chair of GEPA, it has been decades since GEPA has come forth to the Guam legislature to put together a budget presentation.
During the budget hearing, Senator Perez asked if their current 41 staff is enough to operate.
Walter Leon Guerrero, Administrator, Guam Environmental Protection Agency stated, ” no ma’am, again in our terms of discussion and discussions with you in order for us to meet all of the mandates we would probably need our full staffing pattern-filled and in addition more inspectors because that seems to be one of our shortfalls is having more people on the field because after we permit a facility and make sure they meet all the permit requirements .”
According to Perez, she wanted this on the record to provide the community with proof that 41 individuals are not sufficient enough to carry out the mandates that protect the environment.
One example provided by Administrator Leon Guerrero is the building of Camp Blaz which she says will severely impact and hinder GEPA.
As the department of defense predicts GEPA will need 12 – 15 individuals on-site to keep up with the mass buildup.
According to Leon Guerrero, the staffing issues are a problem nationwide, and after discussions with other environmental agencies throughout the states their employees are first groomed, accumulate work experience, and then leave for higher-paying positions. Since they are a semi-autonomous agency they have to follow the Department of administrations pay scale.
After GEPA presented their information Senator Joe San Agustin brought up a point that within GEPA’s budget request they needed to specify and detail their request to help legislation better understand what the agency needs. He also adds that if given the current request there is no current waiting list of applicants for GEPA thus he asks what kind of recruitment and marketing plan you have to capture new applicants.
Walter Leon Guerrero, Administrator, Guam Environmental Protection Agency stated, ” so you asked what type of recruitment process do you have … We are trying to get and build a paid internship much like you said sir where we get them in their junior or even into the start of their senior year where they are vetted into GEPA which will have an attachment for one or two years of commitment if we help pay for their schooling for their last years whether it be undergraduate studies or masters degrees studies which they will work for us up to a minimum of 2 years which is something again up for discussion .”
Damen Michael PNC News First.