After months of dispute and negotiations, the Commonwealth Ports Authority finally agreed to pay the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. its outstanding utility bills that include disputed amounts from previous fiscal years.
The CPA board approved on Friday a supplemental budget that would cover payments for the utilities corporation.
CPA and CUC have been working on an offset arrangement on the utilities corporation’s use of water wells located inside CPA facilities and property. It was earlier disclosed that CUC has 58 water wells inside CPA premises.
Since early this year, the two agencies have been negotiating the issue until they reconciled their records and came up with a settlement figure of $2.9 million. Of this amount, $1.3 million covers billing disputes in fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
According to CPA finance committee chair Frances Mafnas, the $2.9 million is the “adjusted” number from CUC and accepted by the ports authority.
The board approved Friday a $1.393 million supplemental funding to pay the utilities expenses of the Saipan airport in fiscal years 2011 and 2012. This will be taken from the airport’s gross revenue funds, which was certified available by the agency’s new comptroller, Skye Aldan.
The $1 million utility budget for the Saipan airport also fell short in fiscal year 2013, so the board also approved a supplemental amount of $745,000, also to be sourced from the airport gross revenue funds.
“In fiscal year 2013, we have a shortfall of $745,000, which the board also approved so we can pay our accounts to CUC, which is $2.9 million,” Mafnas explained.
Besides payment for utilities, $269,000 of the supplemental budget will go to the removal and replacement of runway markings at the Rota airport and $32,033 will fund the Rota airport’s departure airlines office space extension.
Ports authority officials earlier disclosed to Saipan Tribune that CUC and CPA have had no standing agreement on the use and access in premises where certain facilities like power plant and water catchments are located.
CPA, being the owner of the property where CUC wells are located, had in the past demanded lease payments and an offsetting arrangement with CUC that did not prosper.