Mayor Donald G. Flores lamented the 6-percent funding cut for the Saipan Mayor's Office this fiscal year 2013, criticizing the Legislature's budget conference committee for its “unfair” allocation for the biggest island in the Commonwealth.
Flores said in an interview Monday that the approved $1.165-million budget for the Saipan Mayor's Office is about $70,000 short of what the governor submitted in his revised budget proposal after April 1 but was subsequently amended by the bicameral budget panel.
He questioned the move, underlining that it was only the budget for the Saipan Mayor's Office that got slashed while the Tinian and Rota mayor's offices was approved to receive more although both islands have smaller populations than Saipan.
Gov. Benigno R. Fitial on Sunday signed the budget bill into Public Law 17-85 which apportioned $4.62 million each for Tinian and Rota.
“The way the conference committee has done it was very unfair to the Saipan Mayor's Office,” said Flores, adding that the Saipan and Northern Islands Delegation failed to fight for the Saipan municipality.
With the budget cutback, Flores said the Legislature placed the Saipan Mayor's Office in a “shortfall” in FY2013 which would certainly affect the delivery of services to the community, including secondary road repairs, picking up dead animals on the road, and the assistance they provide to lawmakers in village projects for their respective constituents.
“We're trying to improve our island but by not giving us the budget, we won't be able to give the services they need. It's as simple as that,” he said.
The mayor said he hopes “to get to the bottom of this” by writing a letter to the Legislature and possibly meeting with them to find out why they had to cut down the budget for the Saipan Mayor's Office but increase funding for other offices.
“We have to be mindful how we're going to survive and not incur any deficit,” he added.
His special adviser, Henry Hofschneider, thanked the governor for seeing the need to give the Saipan Mayor's Office the additional $70,000 as reflected in his budget proposal revision.