Topasna on GHURA pay raise debacle: ‘the board did nothing wrong’

GHURA Executive Director Ray Topasna (PNC file photo)

Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority director Ray Topasna was on the defense live on air over K57 Friday morning about the pay raises that have his agency in the hot seat.

Topasna and GHURA as a whole have been under fire after their board approved a 4% pay raise for the director and deputy director.

On the air with K57’s Patti Arroyo Friday morning, Topasna says the issue is being blown out of proportion, saying that while the timing is clearly bad, nothing suspicious was actually done.

Basically, he says this is an optics issue, with so many on Guam suffering from losing income in the economic shutdown.

But Topasna says the GovGuam rules and regulations for employees state that based on performance reviews, anything above a satisfactory, warrants a pay increment.

In fact, he says the Legislature restored incremental pay raises for most, if not all of GovGuam, at the beginning of the fiscal year, and that many other employees have received pay bumps during the pandemic shutdown.

Nonetheless, Topasna said he instructed his staff not to process these raises.

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“The board did nothing wrong. And I don’t want to give the impression that we’re backpedaling because the board did nothing wrong. There was no intent to process, the board did nothing wrong – it was a matter of procedure. We needed to get something done before it became suspect that we did something in a subsequent fiscal year that should have been done prior to,” Topasna said.

Topasna says the raise represented his review from the audit covering January 2019 to January 2020.

There’s a public GHURA board meeting next Friday, where Topasna says more light will be shed on the situation.