Even if Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signs a bill to realign funds to the municipality, that doesn’t mean the Tinian municipality will be flush with cash.
Tinian Mayor Edwin P. Aldan still plans to implement austerity and other belt-tightening measures in order to stretch out that extra cash until the end of the current fiscal year.
Aldan made this assurance as the CNMI Senate unanimously passed House Bill 21-37 into law yesterday, a bill to realign $1.09 million to fund the salaries of Tinian municipal employees beyond the May 10 payroll.
Sen. Teresita A. Santos (Ind-Rota) commended the Tinian leadership for being creative in identifying the funding source. “I fully support the legislation as the Municipality of Tinian is being threatened by an imminent work furlough, including stopping critical public services and programs if the legislation is not acted on by the Senate.”
H.B. 21-37, introduced by Rep. Antonio SN Borja (R-Tinian), now heads to the desk of Torres. Aldan hopes for immediate action.
Once it becomes law, the money would secure the payroll of almost 50 employees under the Tinian Mayor’s Office, the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission, and the Tinian Municipal Treasury.
“I’ve asked the governor for his consideration. There is also an attorney general that makes the final decision before the governor signs it. So, I respectfully ask the attorney general to consider the urgency of this bill,” said Aldan. “The funds will not only go to employment but it would also help with our scholarships, medical referral and cancer patients, and dog control program—almost all of our municipal programs. …These are good programs that we want to keep.”
He said that Super Typhoon Yutu disrupted the municipality’s finances. They used up the allocated funds they received for the current fiscal year to help the island recover after being hit by the super typhoon. “If not for [Yutu], we wouldn’t be here asking…the Legislature to pass the bill…”
Aldan said their 2019 funds paid for the gasoline and to pay vendors such as stores and restaurants for food and water delivered to those in need. “These are going to be reimbursed by [the Federal Emergency Management Agency]. But, while we’re waiting for FEMA, we are short on funds to continue the payroll for the employees.
“We do have something planned, even if we get the money. We [have a] plan how to further spread these funds to take them beyond, possibly, fiscal year 2019, if we do some austerity measures. There will be cuts on hours of operation, there would be have to be, because we don’t foresee additional revenue [at the] municipal level. …So, for us to survive and to stretch this thing out, we need to do some austerity measures.”