A regulation change to fees on signboards made effective earlier this year ramps up a previous flat fee of $100 for political signboards for candidates seeking political office to a range of $50-$100 per signboard in certain designated zones.
Rep. Joseph Leepan Guerrero (R-Saipan) recently has drawn concern to these changes but the Department of Public Lands, the administer of these regulations, says there were nothing new with regulations, which were published last November and effective in February, and no comments, including Guerrero’s, were received on the regulation change on the matter of signboards during the months long comment period.
DPL has also tried to charge the previous flat fee for political signboards, according to DPL Secretary Marianne Teregeyo, but the Attorney General’s Office has advised that the fees must apply until regulations are changed, which she suggested yesterday would be forthcoming.
Guerrero told Saipan Tribune that he submitted an application to place campaign signboards on the road, be it private or public, and paid a $100 application fee about two months ago.
“We waited patiently for two months, even with numerous attempts to follow up what seems to be the hold back, just to be told it’s under review, it’s under review,” he said. “And now to receive this…stating that there’s some changes on the signboard fees. Apparently, they have a new set of rules and regulations. When we submitted the application process, it was not provided to my attention or directed to my or the committee’s attention that there are going to be changes the rules and fees that are going to be imposed.”
DPL now charges a $100 fee per signboard in “primary” zones, $70 per signboard in secondary, and $50 per signboard in tertiary zones.
“Why in the first place can you not share that information when the committee members of the chairman submit that application? Why do you wait two months?” he said, referring to an email he received the morning of the interview late last month.
“These are only temporary signs, only good for four or five months then it’s taken down. For such an enormous, exorbitant fee—we are not in the business of the making money. All the fundraising we make is to address the costs associated with campaigning. This is ridiculous. DPL should revisit this.”
He said he wants the DPL secretary to address with to all the representatives that are seeking re-election.
“It’s obvious that the this ill-advice by whoever the [legal] counsel is for DPL. I am protesting this exorbitant fee because I submitted my application timely and was not even consulted there was going to be changes in the fee,” he said.
“A hundred dollars. That’s all I paid,” said Guerrero, when asked how much he paid his last campaign. Guerrero is running for re-lection again this November.
Teregeyo clarifies though that these regulations are not new but rather implemented before she got into office.
The regulations are available online on our website at www.dpl.gov.mp and regulations were published in November and effective in February 2016.
“They were published in the Commonwealth Register and available for comment, to which none were submitted regarding signboards. Representative Lee Pan did not submit a comment when the regulations were published for comment, which eventually became adopted (before I was at DPL),” Teregeyo told Saipan Tribune in an email.
She said because the regulation on signboard was “not specific” as to political signboards which are seasonal, temporary, and every two years, and are different from business signboards which are more permanent, at her discretion, she said she signed three signboard permits each paying the old fee of $100 and forwarded the permits to the Attorney General for signature (All permits require the AG’s signature).
“Shortly after, the permits were returned unsigned from the AG and a letter to me, indicating that DPL should charge the fee according to the regulation. This means that all political signboards will have to pay per signboard and per location,” Teregeyo said.
“The AG and I discussed this in person, and he indicated that DPL will have to amend the regulation to address political signboards in the future, however, in the meantime, signboard fee’s apply.”
“Again, the regulation is not new, and is available on DPL’s website, the regulation were published in November and effective in February 2016. DPL will be submitting an amendment to the regulation to address several inconsistencies on other matters as well, and will announce to the general public so that they can submit their comments.”