The trustees of the Marianas Public Land Trust voted unanimously last Feb. 25 to approve the Municipality of Tinian’s request for a $1.3 million loan.
Tinian requested for a loan from MPLT to satisfy the 2005 judgment in the amount of $1.3 million that was entered against the municipality by the federal court for work and materials provided by the U.S. Geological Survey for exploratory drilling on Tinian in 1989.
The federal court in December of 2015 granted the federal government’s writ of execution which levied Tinian’s Municipal funds meant for payment of employees, programs and services.
“After close to 20 years of owing this debt to the federal government, I am pleased to announce that the Municipality of Tinian and Aguiguan has fully satisfied the judgment that was ordered by the district court in US v. Borja,” said Tinian Mayor Joey P. San Nicolas. “By fully satisfying the judgment now per the Payment Installment Agreement entered into in January, we have saved the Municipality of Tinian close to $600,000 in interest. These are funds that we can put to better use elsewhere.”
“No one is happier than I am to finally pay off this debt as I was the sitting mayor when the municipality was sued,” said acting governor and Senate President Francisco M. Borja (Ind-Tinian) who was present at the MPLT when the loan was approved. “This loan will now allow us to focus on other critical issues that need to be addressed on Tinian without worrying about the federal government looking over our shoulder.”
“The levy could not have come at the worst time as it was executed on New Year’s Eve. However, this leadership worked swiftly and collaboratively to address the situation. We are now in a position to reallocate and reprioritize our limited financial resources to continue our delivery of essential programs and services and maintain employment of our people,” said San Nicolas.
The Tinian Legislative Delegation pledged a portion of Tinian’s share of the annual casino license fee collected pursuant to Public Law 18-56 to service the loan from MPLT. The loan is for a three-year term at the annual interest rate of 5 percent. “I am thankful that the Trustees saw the urgency and the value in investing these funds in the people of Tinian. Just as we pledged to satisfy the USGS judgment, I am confident that we are able to live up to the obligations of this loan,” said San Nicolas.
The municipality has already made its first annual payment to MPLT in the amount $450,000 as appropriated by Tinian Local Law 19-10.
San Nicolas extends his appreciation to the Tinian Leadership, the MPLT trustees, and the CNMI Secretary of Finance Larissa Larson for their efforts in the loan process.
“This was definitely a process which required teamwork. The expeditious approval of our request was the result of the collaboration between the Tinian Mayor’s Office, the Tinian Municipal Council, the Tinian Legislative Delegation, the Secretary of Finance, Governor Torres and Lt. Governor Hocog, and the staff and management of MPLT. I thank everyone for their effort and support,” he said.