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American Samoa governor takes pay cut

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 7:45 a.m. HST, Feb 17, 2011

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — Gov. Togiola Tulafono and his cabinet members will join other territorial government employees in taking pay cuts as American Samoa tries to close a budget deficit.

The territory expects to save $3.27 million a year by reducing work hours and pay for about 2,500 employees starting this month.

"We have to take these drastic measures due to the financial shortfall in local revenues," Tulafono said.

The governor said on his weekend radio program Saturday that the reduction applies to himself, his lieutenant governor, and all his cabinet members as well.

The territorial government's personnel office didn't have specifics on the amount by which Tulafono's $85,000 salary would be reduced.

However, officials have said the pay cuts are to be determined by how much each employee earns. Employees paid up to $20,800 a year will work and earn four hours less every two-week pay period. Employees who earn more than $62,400 each year will have their hours and pay reduced by 12 hours.

The lieutenant governor earns $75,000, while cabinet members earn between $50,000 and $100,000.

Some employees are exempt from the cuts, including classroom teachers, school bus drivers, and those paid by federal grants.

Tulafono early last month sent the territorial Legislature four tax bills to finance the shortfall. But as of Wednesday, only one bill had made it out of committee. The rest have been tabled in committee.

The governor told his cabinet last week he'll look to reduce the territory's work force in June if tax revenues don't grow.

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