Tinian Municipal Council resolution clarifies budget authority


The 18th Tinian Municipal Council has passed a resolution to “officially memorialize the process in which the Tinian Municipal Council will act pursuant its authority granted in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Constitution.”

The resolution, which the municipal council passed on Dec. 16, outlined all its authority constitutionally granted and prescribed how it will procedurally act pursuant to the CNMI Constitution.

Juanita M. Mendiola, who chairs the municipal council’s Executive Appointments and Government Investigations Committee, said: “I understand that one of the ambiguous substantive provision in the Constitution is the question of whether or not the council is authorized to approve proposed budgets by the mayor. Unfortunately, we received legal advice stating that the council is not specifically granted approval authority, but I feel we can bypass that by adding the procedural mechanism to make sure that the council is allowed to review and approve budget proposals by locking in on the specific authority to reprogram funds on appropriated budgets by requiring review and approval.”

Municipal Council chair Joseph E. Santos said, “It is not only difficult to justify but also illogical to approve reprogramming requests on budgets that the council didn’t review and approve. It is like blindly approving movements of funding without knowing anything about how it got there and why they are being moved from one account to another. We need to be a part of reviewing and approving budget proposals so we can make legitimate decisions whether to approve or deny reprogramming requests. This process will also provide the council with records to monitor reprogramming so we can have some comparable data to rely on when reviewing the next budget request.”

Although council vice chair Thomasa P. Mendiola was off island and wasn’t able to attend the session, she did inform the council through email communications prior to the session that she supports the resolution. (PR)

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