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PSS employees to receive paychecks on March 2

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PUBLIC School System employees will receive their paychecks on Monday, March 2, PSS acting finance director Kimo Rosario said as he warned that PSS cannot spend more than what is allotted by its revised budget.
Friday, Feb. 28, was PSS’ payday.
A Marianas High School teacher, who is a federally funded PSS employee, said she received her paycheck Friday evening.
In an advisory issued Friday afternoon, Rosario told the employees: “PSS received its fund transfer required to make a biweekly payroll today. PSS Finance will now draft and authorize the bank ACH transfer. Due to time zone difference with financing lending institutions located outside the CNMI and this late bank transaction (drafting and authorization of bank ACH transfer past Bank of Guam’s ACH-transfer deadline), net payroll allotments will not be posted in your bank accounts until next week, Monday, March 2, 2020, at the soonest.”
An ACH transfer is “the electronic movement of money between banks through the Automated Clearing House network, one of the biggest U.S. payment systems.”
Rosario said “in total, the [CNMI] government transferred $950,000 — $750,000 for payroll Friday and $230,000 for FICA on Monday (following payroll) to PSS for operations. The amount we received is in line with our revised budget.”
PSS’ original budget for fiscal year 2020 was $37.7 million. Due to the economic downturn as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, the central government implemented across-the-board budget cut. PSS’ FY 2020 budget was reduced to $27 million.
Rosario noted that PSS is still operating at its previous budget level which he said is “not wise.” Three of the five elected members of the Board of Education, however, rejected the PSS management’s austerity-measure proposal, and instead “authorized” the education commission to “immediately” file an injunction against the central government.
Rosario said there is not enough funding for PSS’ $1.364 million biweekly personnel cost. “PSS is only paying our net ACH but not mandatory deductions like [Group Health and Life Insurance], tax withholding, and payroll vendors,” he added.
He explained that the PSS payroll has two parts: 1) net ACH — the employees’ bank net deposits amounting to $764,000; and 2) the mandatory deductions — FICA, GHLI, tax withholding which total $600,000.
Without the implementation of an austerity measure, Rosario said PSS is incurring a $400,000 deficit every two weeks. “This is why we need to implement cost-cutting measures,” he added.
“We are still spending $1.364 million despite knowing our revised budget cannot cover this amount.”
“I won’t lie to our employees just like the numbers don’t lie,” he said. “I don’t sugarcoat either. Lying in finance is stealing. Everyone is clamoring [against a] 25% [budget cut] but they seem to fail to understand this simple concept: ‘What is 25% of zero?’ If revenue collections are down, then…[our] share [of the revenue] decreases as well. Everyone needs to understand this simple logic.”

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