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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dela Cruz pushes for road use tax on Tinian

Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz urged Rep. Trenton Conner yesterday to reintroduce his local bill to create use tax to help maintain the roads and historic sites on Tinian’s military-leased lands.

Dela Cruz pointed out that the roads within the leaseback area are now CNMI property and the government has a responsibility to maintain them. And, although the roads within the Exclusive Military Use Zone still belong to the Navy, Tinian must maintain them because they are the access roads to Tinian’s No. 1 tourist attraction, the North Field Historic Landmark.

"These roads are the arteries that pulse through Tinian’s tourism industry," wrote the mayor. "Unfortunately, our request for funding in this year’s CNMI budget failed."

At the budget hearing held on Tinian by the Senate Committee on Finance, Ernie Hofschneider, resident department head for the Department of Public Works, read out loud the list of antiquated equipment currently owned by the department on Tinian. He and others also noted the lack of supplies and fuel to maintain these roads and historic sites.

The mayor suggested that charging $1 for each customer who rides a bus, van, or all-terrain vehicles and $2 fee per car rental would not be too much to ask of the business community.

"Right now," wrote the mayor, "our local tour businesses and car rental agencies enjoy the use of our roads and parks at no charge. Certainly, they would accept a $1 per head fee in return for improved road and park maintenance."

The alternative—no maintenance—is unacceptable, said Dela Cruz. The jungle is encroaching on the roadway, making it dangerous for two vehicles to pass each other without one or both of them pulling off the pavement. There are blind hills and corners just waiting for an accident to happen. The situation has been magnified by military equipment movement to and from North Field, in addition to tour buses and rental cars.

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