Calvo puts together 'fiscal strike team'
Vince Arriola, Guam Department of Administration
Following declarations of imminent government bankruptcy that led to imposition of a new sales and business taxes as well as cuts to government services, Governor Eddie Baza Calvo has put together a 'Fiscal Strike Team' to pursue taxes that have gone uncollected to date in the eight years of his administration. The team, to be chaired by Department of Administration Deputy Director Vince Arriola, will focus on identifying soft spots in revenue collection and putting systems in place that will expedite collections. “As we work toward fiscal stability, I am tasking my cabinet to focus on putting systems in place that will result in aggressive revenue collections, Governor Calvo said. “I have tasked the team to identify potential areas of leakage and to put systems in place that will prevent this, while fast tracking collections.” The Fiscal Strike Team has been tasked to examine key revenue streams such as Use Tax, Tobacco Tax, Air BNB, and the Real Property Tax. “Every major revenue stream in the Government of Guam should be examined where revenue can be collected more expediently, and where accounting systems have room for improvement and coupling with technology,” Governor Calvo said. Agencies such as Guam Customs and Quarantine will be augmented with personnel and leadership that will allow the agency to not only protect the borders, but increase also increase revenue. The agency is charged with assessing key revenue streams such as Use Tax. “The more revenue we collect, the more funding we will have to hire more officers to protect our borders and keep harmful drugs off our streets,” Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio said. The Fiscal Strike Force will include key cabinet members from departments such as the Department of Administration, Department of Rev & Tax, Bureau of Budget Management & Research, Office of Technology, and Guam Customs and Quarantine. “Together, we have improved economic outlook and government efficiency the past 7 years — reducing unemployment from more than 13 percent to 4 percent, reducing the deficit by more than 50 percent, and paying out tax refunds on time. The Fiscal Strike Team is yet another step toward improving government efficiency and services,” Governor Calvo said. In line with building a more fiscally-focused Customs agency, Eric Palacios, Special Assistant to the Governor for Infrastructure, Invasive Species and Environment, will be transferred to lead Customs & Quarantine agency. Palacios has almost a decade of law enforcement experience with the Quarantine Services Division in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, where he served as an officer inspecting incoming passenger flights and shipments, and as a canine handler. He is the former Director of Guam EPA and the Guam State Clearinghouse. James McDonald will be augmenting the Department of Corrections where he will work with Director Tony Lamorena on the continued and aggressive pursuit of addressing prison contraband/ Operation Green Vigilance. McDonald brings decades of law enforcement experience to the department, including his service at the helm of Civil Defense. He will replace Kate Baltazar who will bring her management and federal programs experience as the General Manager of the Public Broadcasting Services Guam. Baltazar has strong management experience during her time at Sanctuary Inc. She also served as the first State Director of WestCare Pacific Islands and then served as Director of Guam State Clearinghouse. Their appointments are effective immediately.