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Friday, April 18, 2014

Wage hike for NMC personnel eyed next fiscal year

Employees of the Northern Marianas College will have something to look forward to in the new fiscal year after a consensus was reached Friday by members of the Board of Regents: that is, to implement a new salary schedule beginning fiscal year 2015.

Board of Regents chair Frank Rabauliman disclosed Friday that a final recommendation on employees’ salaries will soon be brought up by the personnel committee, headed by Juan T. Lizama.

In preliminary discussions on Friday, fiscal committee chair William Torres presented three approaches on how a new salary hike will be enforced. Option 1 recommends a 100 percent one-shot salary hike to be implemented in fiscal year 2015; Option 2 suggests a 50-percent incremental increase, with two years of enforcement; Option 3 recommends that the salary hike be implemented within three years.

“The fiscal committee, after reviewing the documentations from the college, takes the position that it is perhaps a more reasonable approach to recommend [to the personnel committee] the Option 1 that will provide a 100-percent single shot implementation [of the wage hike],” Torres said Friday.

NMC has two funding sources: appropriation from the Legislature and the revenue it collects from students’ tuition and fees.

Among the reasons why the college finds it hard to hire needed personnel is its existing compensation package. Last year, a salary study and a desk audit were conducted with the goal of providing college personnel competitive wages that are not far from peer institutions.

Despite not having on hand all budgetary information for fiscal year 2015, Torres said his committee is determined to endorse Option 1. He described the plan as “quite ambitious” but “justifiable.”

Initially, Torres said, NMC may potentially see a slightly over $7 million appropriation next fiscal year with the inclusion of the planned salary hike for personnel.

Torres said the board has to give Hart its blessing to advocate and negotiate with the executive and legislative branches for a higher budget for NMC.

“The committee wishes the CEO good tidings in pursuit of Option No. 1,” Torres said.

NMC president Dr. Sharon Y. Hart was given the authority Friday to go ahead with the necessary budgetary planning that will incorporate the proposed salary hike for employees next fiscal year. This will be turned over to the personnel committee for action.

Board members emphasized that the new salary schedule will be dependent on the approval of the fiscal year 2015 appropriation for the college.

NMC is set to submit to Gov. Eloy S. Inos its proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 by end of the month.

According to Rabauliman, despite the reality that NMC has not gotten the amount it wants for its budget even once, he has high hopes that the much-awaited compensation plan for NMC will be realized by fiscal year 2015.

Board vice chair Elaine Orilla, for her part, reminded her colleagues that “if the money is not there, in reality it will not happen.”

But Hart pointed out that not all personnel at the college are funded under local appropriation and cited the president’s authority to reprogram college funds when and where it is needed.

Saipan Tribune learned that salaries of NMC employees have been frozen for years as a result of a policy on promotions that was adopted in 1989 but was never implemented.

It will be recalled that despite attempts of previous NMC administrations to adjust employees’ wages, the college budget has always prevented the institution from doing it.

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