House Floor Leader Ralph Demapan (Cov-Saipan), along with at least seven other representatives, pre-filed on Monday a legislative initiative that would amend the CNMI Constitution to abolish the municipal councils on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota to help eliminate redundancy of functions, cut costs, and reduce the size of government. If and when the House and Senate pass the initiative, it will be placed before voters to decide on either at the next regular general election or the next special election, whichever comes earlier.
Demapan, in an interview yesterday, said the goal is to help reduce redundancy, improve efficiency, and cut government costs by more than $450,000 annually.
“There have been numerous recommendations from the public how to make the government more efficient, reduce redundancy, and reduce its size, and this is among the proposals we hope will be acceptable. Many of my colleagues have signed as co-sponsors of this bill,” Demapan told Saipan Tribune.
House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (IR-Saipan), one of the co-sponsors of the initiative, said last night he supports abolishing municipal councils because there are already legislative delegations “so it is obsolete and redundant.”
“We should also consider merging the Indigenous Affairs [Office] and the Carolinian Affairs [Office],” he added.
House Legislative Initiative 18-2 seeks to abolish municipal councils and establish a chartered municipal form of government for Saipan.
The principal functions of municipal councils are to confirm the appointments of resident department heads by the mayor and to review the mayors' proposed budget.
Although the responsibilities of the municipal councils are limited, the municipal councils have 14 employees and a combined budget of $452,900, the initiative says.
Demapan, in a phone interview, reiterated that municipal councils perform no functions which cannot be provided by mayors.
“In order to conserve resources and streamline government, the Municipal Councils should be eliminated. Article IV, section 8 [of the NMI Constitution] is proposed to be amended to make Saipan a chartered municipal form of government, identical to the form of municipal government on Rota and Tinian and Aguiguan,” the seven-page initiative says.
Previous initiatives to shrink the size of government, which many describe as “bloated,” never made it on the ballot including the ones that propose to reduce the number of lawmakers.