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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

OPA facing a shortfall of $183K

Benjamin Cruz

The Office of Public Accountability had a projected shortfall of $183,000 as of Aug. 31 as a result of over-expenditures for personnel and operations, OPA said on Wednesday.

“The overspending came primarily from $122,000 in personnel costs and $61,000 in operations. OPA’s cash reserves will cover the shortfall,” OPA said in a press release, citing a transition report prepared by outgoing Deputy Public Auditor Yukari Hechanova.

On top of the deficit, OPA will still have to cover a projected payout of $89,000 to the five employees, who have been asked to resign as part of Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz’s fiscal realignment plan for 2019.

“The Department of Administration (DOA) will invoice the OPA for the $123,000 in personnel costs shortly after the fiscal year end,’ Hechanova stated in her transition report. “The OPA will pay this invoice using the cash reserves. The remaining $62,000 operations shortfall has already been paid through OPA’s checking account as vendor invoices become due.”

Cruz announced his fiscal realignment plan on his first day in office on Sept. 17. The plan includes the relief of three top executives, who are holding unclassified positions and two new employees on probation. The executives who are on their way out are Hechanova, Special Assistant Rodalyn Gerardo, and Executive Secretary Llewelyn Terlaje.

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The OPA had a budget of $1,396,898 in FY2018.

Citing Hechanova’s report, OPA said the agency’s cash balance is $392,000, rests in time certificates of deposit, one checking account, two savings accounts, and one petty cash fund as of Aug. 31.

Taking into account the projected shortfall of $183,000, projected cash payouts of $89,000, as well as reimbursements from a federal grant of $48,000 and a $10,000 allotment from the Department of Administration, the estimated cash balance as of Sept.30 is $189,000.

“One of my first directives in coming into this office was to get a full reporting of OPA’s finances,” Cruz said. “In receiving this report, it confirms OPA overspent its FY 2018 appropriation by $183,000 and the office needed to make tough, but necessary cuts to personnel to stay within the budgeted amounts granted by the Legislature.”


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