Flashback – February 4, 2006-2008

Posted on Feb 03 2014
[B][U]February 4, 2006[/U][/B] [B]Dialysis center running out of funds[/B]

The Fitial administration is pushing for the reprogramming of funds for the completion of the public health and hemodialysis center project on Saipan. Acting Gov. Timothy P. Villagomez said during a news briefing yesterday that unless new funds are made available, there is no hope that the building will open as scheduled. “The project continues to be underfunded. We’d be asking the Legislature for reprogramming of funds,” said Villagomez. He said, though, that the construction is now 70 percent complete. “We finally had a chance to tour the site. Surprisingly, it is now 70-percent complete,” said the acting governor. The Babauta administration and the previous Legislature had already reprogrammed $5.8 million for the project in 2004.

[B]WTF to let go of some personnel[/B]

The Fitial administration is letting go of clerical personnel at the CNMI Water Task Force who earn between $35,000 and $40,000 a year, acting Gov. Timothy P. Villagomez said yesterday. According to Villagomez, there are currently three administrative staff members at the task force who are doing the job of one person. They are receiving an annual salary ranging between $35,000 and $40,000. “We will be downsizing the task force. We will remove some clerical staff and let the agency use the pool of administrative staff from other agencies,” Villagomez, who now chairs the task force.

[B][U]February 4, 2007[/U][/B] [B]NMI team off to DC again[/B]

A local delegation of government and business leaders will leave for Washington D.C. again this week to tackle this time issues surrounding the local immigration. CNMI House Speaker Oscar M. Babauta and Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Juan T. Guerrero said they are set to leave for D.C. either today or tomorrow to attend the Feb. 8 hearing set by the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction on insular areas. “We’re refining our position paper that will be submitted to the U.S. Senate. We’ve got a number of people doing it,” said Guerrero in an interview.

[B]PSS seeking new $42M budget[/B]

The cash-strapped Public School System is seeking an increase in its budget allocation for Academic Year 2007-2008. According to PSS acting Finance director and Federal Programs adviser Tim Thornburgh, PSS would need at least $42 million for its payroll and operations expenses alone next school year. Thornburgh said the budget proposal has already been completed and submitted to the CNMI State Board of Education for approval.

[B][U]February 4, 2008[/U][/B] [B]Some at CUC among highest paid[/B]

The cash-strapped Commonwealth Utilities Corp. employs some of the highest paid employees in government. CUC personnel data showed that executive director Anthony Guerrero, who has the largest salary at the utility, made $84,000 a year before the 10-percent pay cut that the governor recently imposed on CUC. The second highest paid is senior engineer John Onedera. His salary was only $200 lower than that of the CNMI governor, who earns $70,000 a year.

[B]Lawmakers torn between helping CUC and easing public’s burden[/B]

House Speaker Arnold I. Palacios says he is not sure the Legislature can grant the governor’s request to repeal a law that prohibits the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. from setting unregulated rates. Palacios, who authored Public Law 15-94 in the previous Legislature, said that lawmakers are torn between helping CUC pay for fuel and easing the burden on consumers. “This is a real dilemma that we have. We really must search our souls before we can make a decision. As much as we want to help solve the power crisis, we cannot allow CUC to raise the rates to a point where families cannot afford it. What’s the use of having reliable power if people cannot afford it?” Palacios said. Palacios, along with other legislative leaders, met with CUC on Friday to discuss the utility’s lack of funds for power generation fuel. At the meeting, CUC echoed the governor’s plea for the Legislature to repeal P.L. 15-94, which brought residential power rates down in October 2007 and prohibits the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. from setting rates unilaterally.

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