Admin promises to settle $3M unremitted allotments to PSS

Acting Gov. Eloy S. Inos acknowledged on Thursday that the central government has an outstanding debt of over $3 million to the Public School System, representing unremitted allotments for its personnel cost in fiscal year 2011.

From an original appropriation of $32 million for PSS last fiscal year, the amount was reduced to $28 million after an across-the-board budget reduction. PSS finance director Richard Waldo said that of the reduced budget, only $25 million was actually received by PSS-short of $3 million. He described the amount as “rollover” funds that should be added to this fiscal year’s budget.

Although the administration acknowledged its debt to PSS, Inos admitted to Saipan Tribune that he cannot give a definite timeframe as to when this will be actually paid.

“Yes, we owe them that amount.and whatever is owed will still have to be paid,” he told Saipan Tribune during the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Puerto Rico transmission and distribution waterline project Thursday.

The acting governor added that they have no intention to prolong the unpaid obligation, but due to the current cash-flow problem of the government, it would be difficult to pay them right away.

“We have no intention of prolonging along as our cash-flow permits,” he said.

Besides the $3 million unremitted allotments, Inos also acknowledged the prior year’s unpaid obligation to PSS-$1.7 million in FY 2010 budget.

Saipan Tribune learned that PSS and the administration have recently inked a memorandum of understanding indicating that the central government will absorb the utility bills of PSS this school year to offset the $1.7 million debt incurred in FY 2010.

Waldo, in an interview with Saipan Tribune, admitted that PSS is facing a challenging year due to the limited allocation from the local government, which provided the system $30 million for all its personnel and operational costs.

The finance director said PSS is still facing a shortfall of $900,000 for CUC bills this school year, because schools utilized approximately $2.6 million annually in utilities.

Waldo said that PSS is counting on the federal grants and awards that will save the system from its anticipated huge shortfall.

Due to the meager local budget for schools, PSS increased the number of students in classrooms with a minimum of 28 students per teacher. It also frozen positions such as vice principals and non-certified posts. Recently, its central offices were transferred to Marianas High School to save on rental and power, amounting to about $300,000 yearly.

Moneth G. Deposa | Reporter

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