Uniform schedule for public facilities user fees proposed

Posted on Nov 27 2000

A lawmaker is proposing a uniform schedule of user fees for the use of public facilities and services in an effort to shore up dwindling coffers of the government.

Rep. William S. Torres said at present, CNMI agencies do not have standards on which they base their fees — a situation that could deprive the government millions of dollars in potential revenues.

He is sponsoring a resolution that will call on finance officials as well as the public auditor to work with various departments and agencies in developing government-wide standards in assessing user fees.

The measure is expected to be approved this week by the House of Representatives since it has already drawn support from several members, according to Mr. Torres.

“This is a revenue-generating idea,” he told in an interview Friday, noting the government does not even have a way through which it can assess damage when facilities are used by the public.

Likewise, the proposed uniform schedule of fees can boost the pending legislation granting legal effect to electronic records and signatures on the islands, Mr. Torres said.

HB 12-226 or “the Commonwealth Electronic Records and Signatures Act ” is the first step taken by the island government to respond to the latest global mode of doing business of electronic commerce and on-line government through the Internet.

The 14-page measure, which is now up for Senate voting, sets up the scheme here following the signing of similar legislation under the “E-Sign Act” by President Clinton in June of this year.

“This bill will allow the people to seek government services such as renewal of driver’s license electronically or through on-line. So the CNMI must draw up uniform schedule of fees to prepare for this development,” said Mr. Torres.

Having a uniform and consistent policy and procedure of fees and cost recovery will be in the best interest of the Commonwealth, he added.

The finance secretary, procurement chief and the public auditor will be tasked to map out a work plan for the development, consultation and implementation of the proposed schedule of fees, the resolution stated.

Lawmakers will give these officials 120 days to come up with such a proposal which they must present to the presiding officers of the Legislature and an oral presentation conducted prior to target implementation.

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