Guam – Thousands of civilian employees who work for the military on Guam could be affected by furloughs if the automatic federal cuts known as sequestration happens.
Also, the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority which is one hundred percent federally funded has been told by HUD to expect a five percent cut as a result of sequestration that will affect their public housing and section 8 programs.
Thousands of civilian employees who work for the military on Guam could face furloughs if the U.S. budget crisis is not resolved and automatic cuts known as sequestration happens. In an emailed response to PNC news Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs Officer Lt. Matt Knight states explicitly that no official notification of furloughs has been given.
However, he does note that “if sequestration takes effect on 1 March approximately 2000 department of defense civilians working for the Navy, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) on Guam may be affected by the proposed furloughs. Both congress and our workforce will be notified of furlough plans prior to enactment in accordance with the law and guidance from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.”
Knight goes on to explain that there are specific processes and notice requirements for furloughs including a 30-day employee notification. Knight writes that “The welfare of our civilian workforce is a priority.” He also states that they are still hopeful that sequestration is truly averted and not just delayed.
Many of Guam’s local agencies are also bracing for sequestration. GHURA Administrator Mike Duenas is hoping that they can find ways to live within their expected five percent cut in funding. However, because the cut will happen halfway through the fiscal year it has a doubling effect which means some programs will suffer. “Five percent at the beginning doesn’t sound like a lot of money but that’s five percent over the remaining six months of the fiscal year so that’s in effect trying to absorb a ten percent cut we’re looking very carefully at how we can absorb this five percent cut without affecting our ability to maintain the houses we may be able to defer the maintenance but not for too long a period.,” explained Duenas.
At this point GHURA can only estimate the potential low and high impacts of sequestration. For public housing they could receive cuts as low as $120 thousand dollars and as high as $475 thousand dollars, for Section 8 as low as $485 thousand dollars and as high as $2.76 million, overall GHURA could be cut as little as $615 thousand dollars or as much as $3.24 million. “We are looking at how these cuts will affect us in terms of our operations we may have to defer any hirings we may see longer periods of time between inspections we are looking at to what extent we can adjust our payment standards and our utility allowances which may impact families,” said Duenas.
Duenas says their section 8 program assists about 2400 families on Guam a year, however if sequestration were to happen they would not be able to assist as many families but they don’t think that they’ll have to cut any families either as about 150 families drop out of the program a year. Usually they would fill those positions with families who are on a waiting list but if sequestration happens the 4,000 families on the waiting list will have to wait longer. For now Duenas is hopeful that the cuts won’t force him to cut employees.
It is important to note that all of these impacts are just potential impacts that could occur if the U.S. congress and the President can not agree on a budget.