The Saipan Mayor’s Office wants the Legislature to earmark funds that will enable it to operate a roadkill disposal program.
Mayor Donald Flores made the pitch in his comments on House Bill 18-099, which seeks to divide the responsibility of disposing roadkill between the Department of Public Safety and the Municipality of Saipan.
The bill is authored by Rep. Anthony Benavente (Ind-Saipan).
Under the proposal, DPS will still be responsible for removing roadkill from the islands’ roads and highways but, instead of disposing it at the landfill, it will only be required to put the animal carcass on the side of the road for the mayor’s staff to pick up and dispose of.
In an Aug. 26, 2013, letter to Benavente, Flores said his office’s biggest concern about the bill is fuel expenses because, unlike DPS, the Saipan Mayor’s Office does not receive an annual budget to cover fuel expenses for patrolling the streets and neighborhoods of Saipan.
“We only get an appropriation to pay for our fuel expenses, which we incur for performing our statutory responsibilities of repairing, maintaining, and improving secondary roads, delivering water, performing village cleanup, performing debris removal from public places, facilities, and villages, etc. The funds appropriated to our offices to pay for fuel expenses barely cover our annual, total fuel expenses for performing our various duties and responsibilities. Without help from the private sector, we would be severely hampered from delivering the level of services to the public as we have been.”
He said that requiring the mayor’s office to pick up and dispose of roadkill would increase its annual fuel cost.
“Because the amendment will give us the responsibility for disposing dead animals found on public roadways and highways this late into the current fiscal year (if the bill becomes law), and because we did not include a budget for this new, added responsibility in our next fiscal year 2014 spending plan, our office would be unable to consistently carry out its new, added responsibility.”
Another concern Flores cited is the safety and health of his staff when disposing of roadkill.
“Although we have our animal control vehicle, we think it will be counterproductive to assign that vehicle to go around the island to pick up roadkill, as our animal control program is a fulltime job in and by itself. We also think it will be counterproductive to assign another vehicle in our fleet to perform the task of removing roadkill.”
Flores suggested amending the bill by adding a provision that would authorize the allocation of funds for the mayor’s office to use to pay for fuel expenses.
To operate an efficient roadkill pickup and disposal program, he said the mayor’s office would need an annual fuel budget of around $3,500—assuming the cost of fuel remains below $5 gallon in the next 12 months—for a single vehicle operation.
“Although we support the intent of the bill, we want to encourage your committee to give additional serious thought about supporting our office with an annual budget to pay for fuel expenses. Without funding support to pay for our fuel expenses, implementation of the bill will be slow and a struggle for us.”