Aside from seeking a share of Rep. Ramon A. Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) two appropriation bills, Saipan Mayor Marian Dlg. Tudela has urged him not to use a “cookie-cutter” approach on the bills and reconsider how appropriations should be distributed.
Tebuteb’s two appropriation bills—House Local Bill 18-63, which seeks to appropriate $3.264 million in poker fee revenue in fiscal year 2015, and House Local Bill 18-64, which seeks to appropriate additional collections—seems very “repetitious,” according to Tudela.
HLB 18-63 states that $3 million will go to the Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance program and $100,000 will be used for SHEFA operations. Some $25,000 will go to the Saipan Little League; $15,000 for the Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival; $5,000 for the Agricultural Fair; $20,000 for the enforcement operations of the Saipan Zoning Office; $20,000 for Liberation Day activities; $50,000 for the Cultural Village Tipieew; $300,000 equally distributed to each precinct; and $162,000 for the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation operational funds.
In her comments on the bill, Tudela stated that the mayor’s office hear “the same chime every time” her office is asked to comment on an appropriation bill from the local delegation.
“The allocation of locally generated resources to be appropriated in HLB 18-63 is repetitious of the year prior and the years prior to that. It could be different for we know the local delegation knows the exercise of appropriating poker and pachinko license fees is not a given constant; it could and should vary from year to year,” she stated.
Tudela noted that HLB 18-63 is not a variation of the year prior [fiscal year 2014] and believes it ought to be.
Programs and projects to be funded from an appropriation bill should and ought to be prioritized, she added.
“Using a boilerplate bill cuts down on the amount of time and work that needs to be exerted to come up with an otherwise good, commonsense bill. But that is the only good to be derived from using boilerplates—to cut down on time,” Tudela said.
She believes that a set of “criteria” must be used and the local delegation should consider using it to make sure it doesn’t push out bills that are “obviously cookie cutter” or even appear like “collections are earmarked” for just specific programs and projects.
Tudela indicated that in HLB 18-63, $362,000 is a “big ticket item” in the bill but there are no descriptions on how the funds are to be used.
Both bills also seek to appropriate $75,000 for construction of roads but Tudela noted that since the mayor’s office handles secondary roads, other roads are important as well.
Right now, the mayor’s office seeks to be included in the appropriation for rental equipment or heavy equipment.
“We believe the local delegation should consider the fact that there are more pressing public demands that need funds to be performed. We will say that many of the pressing demands are for road repairs,” Tudela said.