The Department of Public Safety is planning to implement drastic cost-cutting measures following the failure of the Legislature to pass the budget for fiscal year 2001.
DPS Commissioner Charles W. Ingram said the police agency is looking at the possibility of cutting overtime due to the tight budget. He added that other austerity measures will also be considered by DPS officials so that they can continue providing services to the community amid budgetary constraints.
The House of Representatives and the Senate are locked in a bitter dispute over several provisions and appropriation items of the FY 2001 budget.
DPS was originally seeking a $29 million appropriation for FY 2001 but the House of Representatives only approved a $14 million funding.
Unfortunately, the Senate further implemented a budget cut giving it only $13.59 million which was only a little bigger than the $12.65 million appropriation for FY 2000.
Mr. Ingram has expressed concern that the budget slash would have significant impact on police operations since the money has been allotted for the purchase of equipment, maintenance cost and implementation of programs aside from the operational budget.
DPS will open Kagman and San Roque sub stations next year which will be needing fire apparatus, equipment for firefighters, full time personnel to man the station and money for the staff training.
Due to limited funding for the past two fiscal years, DPS has been having problems with its fuel cost alone. In FY 1999, DPS had problems meeting its fuel needs as a result of the budget cut. The department has already spent the money for the first quarter of FY 2001 to pay for the last quarter’s (FY 2000) gas.
With very little money for operations, Mr. Ingram said criminal investigation could be jeopardized due to lack of funds. Ironically, the Senate has passed a resolution urging Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio to take immediate action in addressing the crime problem in the CNMI for the safety of the visitors and local residents.
The resolution was passed after the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a travel advisory declaring the CNMI as an unsafe destination for their citizens due to the rising criminality on the island. (LFR)