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Thursday, April 24, 2014

$3 toll fee in Marpi proposed

Rep. Roman C. Benavente (Ind-Saipan) is proposing a $3 toll fee on “each nonresident passenger” who enters the Marpi area to help fund the maintenance of historic sites within Saipan.

In his pre-filed House Local Bill 18-40 or the Marpi Area Toll Fee Act of 2013, Benavente said that imposing a $3 toll fee is a “reasonable and worthwhile means” to generate funds for the construction and maintenance of Saipan’s tourist sites.

Under Benavente’s proposal co-sponsored by Rep. Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), the Division of Parks and Recreation under the Department of Lands and Natural Resources shall erect toll gates entering the Marpi area and collect the toll fee.

The $3 toll fee is to be imposed on “all nonresident visitors of the area, not to include nonresident employees of farm owners in the area from 6am to 6pm daily."

The Division of Parks and Recreation will be required to submit a report on all toll fees collected at the end of each month to the Finance secretary.

The Finance secretary, in turn, shall make a financial report of the status of the Marpi Area Toll Fee Fund or Account to the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation no later than 30 days after the close of each fiscal year.

HLB 18-40 says funds collected shall be available for the SNILD’s appropriation, provided that 50 percent of these funds shall be for the construction and maintenance of tourist sites within Saipan and to assist in the operations of DLNR’s Division of Parks and Recreation.

This local bill is entirely separate from House Bill 18-96 that Benavente and Deleon Guerrero also introduced in July charging a $3 fee for visiting the popular tourist spot Grotto in Marpi for sightseeing or diving. This fee is supposed to secure a source of funding for the Grotto’s maintenance and security.

Grotto is an underwater limestone cavern plummeting 70 feet at its deepest point. Tourists and residents flock to the Grotto for a chance to view the limestone cavern or a chance to dive its underwater world.

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