AFTER DPL PAYS $800,000
Over 200 Saipan families whose private properties were taken by the government for roads and other public uses could expect an additional $2 million in land compensation under a new plan that Rep. Anthony Benavente (Ind-Saipan) is working on. Benavente authored the local bill that paved the way for the release of $800,000 in land compensation by mid-September.
“These landowners have waited for far too long for payments from the government,” Benavente told Saipan Tribune.
Benavente, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the source of the $2 million will also be the Managaha landing fee, the same source of funds for the $800,000.
“I plan to introduce the bill after the Department of Public Lands already released the $800,000. For me, whether there’s already judgment or not, families whose lands were certified to be taken should be included. The reason why some families’ issues have not been adjudicated yet is that they don’t have money to pay lawyers,” Benavente added.
Benavente’s House Local Bill 18-45, Draft 1 became Saipan Local Law 18-19 without the governor’s signature on July 19. Within 60 days of the bill becoming local law, the land payments have to be made; that would be by mid-September.
As of yesterday, there’s no telling whether DPL would wait until mid-September to release the $800,000 in land compensation payments.
The same local law gives $100,000 to the NMI Museum of History and Culture, and another $100,000 to a non-profit group NMD Corp., using funds also from the Managaha landing fee.
Rep. Ray Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan), chairman of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation, said yesterday he supports Benavente’s plan to introduce another local bill appropriating funds to pay landowners.
If and when Benavente’s $2-million bill passes the delegation and becomes law, it will be the biggest land compensation payment in recent years.
Under the $800,000 land compensation payment local law, at least 223 Saipan landowners will get anywhere from 89 cents to over $190,000 based on DPL data.