Rep. Trenton Conner (Ind-Tinian) said yesterday there are options besides reintroducing a vetoed $1 road tax local bill—such as using some $2 million in local funding—to buy fuel and equipment for the proper maintenance of Tinian roads and historic sites.
“The mayor always complains that there is no money. Tell us why there’s no money to buy fuel. The bill that he wants me to reintroduce was vetoed because of concerns that have not been addressed yet,” Conner told Saipan Tribune.
Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz asked the Tinian Legislative Delegation anew for funding to buy fuel, supplies, and sufficient equipment to properly maintain roads and historic sites on military leased lands. The mayor said the delegation has continued to ignore the issue he has been raising since he took office in 2010.
With no funding for road repair and maintenance, the Tinian mayor’s office wants to take precautionary measures.
For one, the mayor wants appropriate warning signs for tourists and residents using Tinian roads and visiting historic sites. These could include standard signs that read, “Watch your step,” “No lifeguard on duty", or “Swim at your own risk.”
“But we must get some signs up that will demonstrate that we have at least warned locals as well as visitors that a danger exists,” the mayor said. “The Attorney General’s Office has determined that the Municipality of Tinian and Aguiguan cannot be represented by them if a lawsuit is filed against us.”
The mayor also asked Conner to reintroduce a $1 user fee for buses, all-terrain vehicles, and rental cars that use Tinian roads.
But Conner said yesterday that the user fee local bill that the mayor’s office drafted has flaws that forced the governor to veto it and these concerns have not been fixed yet.
Meanwhile, the mayor said access roads to the North Field National Historic Landmark have become so narrow because of lack of maintenance that the mayor is concerned about potential lawsuits in case of an accident.
Dela Cruz said Tinian has received no funding in the CNMI budget to maintain the roads that were transferred to the CNMI on military leased lands by the 1994 leaseback agreement.
According to the mayor, unless they receive funding to maintain the access roads to the North Field National Historic Landmark, he will be forced to begin closing the most dangerous sections of the road.
Conner said the mayor may only be putting pressure on the issue because of “politics.”