Senate OKs urgent $15M spending bill with tweaks

Proposals to reduce Sugar Dock project funds by $500K

The Senate on Friday passed a $15-million spending bill that addresses the mold mediation of the Guma Hustisia along with a replacement of its air-conditioning system among many others with tweaks that has yet to be approved by the House.

Coined as an urgent spending bill, Rep. Angel A. Demapan’s (R-Saipan) H.B. 20-164 was amended during a Senate session on Friday to reflect several additional appropriations for Rota and Tinian. The bill seeks to appropriate $15 million from the Casino Gross Revenue Tax from this year.

A House provision of the bill reflects setting aside $3 million to a secured account for disasters and emergencies. The Senate amended that to reflect an amount of $3.5 million appropriation to be shared by both Rota and Tinian instead. Each island got $1.75 million respectively.

Under Rota’s $1.75 million appropriation, $350,000 is allocated for tourism enhancement programs to be appropriated by the Rota Legislative Delegation; $150,000 for the renovation of Rota’s Pinatang Beach Park under the Marianas Visitors Authority’s expenditure authority; $300,000 for municipal employees not funded by the Rota Municipality; $250,000 for Commonwealth Utilities Corp. projects on Rota; $150,000 for the Rota Health Center interisland medical referral air transportation costs and stipends; and more allocations.

Under Tinian’s $1.75 million appropriation, majority of the appropriation, specifically $1.5 million, is allocated to the Tinian and Aguiguan Local Delegation’s reimbursement for their share from 702 funds reprogrammed to the Department of Finance for the completion of the Puerto Rico Dump rehabilitation for the improvement and pavement of roads at the Marpo Heights II sub-division on Tinian. Some $90,000 is allocated for 10 additional full-time employees under the Department of Public Safety on Tinian, while $25,000 each go to the Tinian DPS operations and police academy as well as interisland medical referrals for Tinian. Another $60,000 is allocated to the procurement of a van for the Tinian Office of the Aging, while another $25,000 each to the procurement of a vehicle for the Tinian Department of Public Works Tinian Building Safety Division and the procurement of a vehicle for the Tinian Department of Finance.

Sen. Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian) pushed for the Tinian appropriation amendment, while Sen. Teresita A. Santos (R-Rota) pushed for the Rota amendments. According to her, the amendments for both Rota and Tinian were made possible through Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan).

“…The bill also includes and [keeps] intact the urgent request including monetary compensation to landowners whose private lands are acquired for public purpose. It is hoped that the House will accept the Senate’s amendments in order for the bill to be transmitted to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres for approval,” she said.

A project of both Rep. John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan) and House Speaker Rafael Demapan (R-Saipan), which had a provision to be appropriated $700,000 in the House version of H.B. 20-164 was severely cut down to $200,000 by the Senate. The funds went to Tinian and Rota appropriations.

Sen. Justo Quitugua (Ind-Saipan) included amendments that tweaked the Judiciary’s request for funding to mediate their mold problem along with the procurement of new air-conditioning systems to include any necessary relocation costs. The Judiciary is allocated $7 million for this project.

Quitugua also added that a provision to appropriate $3 million for land taking compensation to include compensation of beach parks/recreational areas, including lot no. 010 D 26, lot no. 010 D 44, and lot no. 010 D 45, along with secondary roads and the 20 certified ponding basins in that specific order.

H.B. 20-164, HD3, SD1 now heads to the House for action.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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