CUC asks House panel to appropriate funding for government’s unpaid utility bills

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COMMONWEALTH Utilities Corp. Executive Director Gary Camacho is asking the House Committee on Ways and Means to appropriate funds for the government’s utility bills and outstanding debts in the fiscal year 2021 budget.

Gary P. Camacho

In his letter to Ways and Means Chairman Ivan Blanco, Camacho said the lack of full appropriation for the government’s utility bills “has resulted in sporadic or irregular payments which [affect] CUC’s operational stability.”

Camacho also provided Blanco the amounts of unpaid bills of each of the government agencies from October 2018 to September 2019.

The executive branch owes CUC $3.2 million; the Legislature, $75,657; and the judiciary, $282,278.

The municipality of Rota owes CUC $1,095,972; Tinian, $944,639; and Saipan and the Northern Islands, $45,953.

Boards and commissions owe a total of $24,369 while independent programs, owe $131,394.

Camacho did not mention the unpaid utility bills of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. or the Public School System.

But in a separate interview, he said as of Friday, the central government’s unpaid utility bills amounted to $10 million while CHCC’s was $34 million.

“It is imperative that all customers remain current with its obligations to pay its utility expenses so as not to [put] a strain on finances and prevent CUC from meeting its statutory mandate of cost recovery,” Camacho said in his letter to Blanco.

He said, “Extended delays in payment place CUC at risk of not being able to provide adequate, reliable, and safe electricity, water, and wastewater services to its customers due to its financial constraints.”

Camacho also asked Blanco not to allow the reappropriation of the funds designated to pay CUC bills.

“We would appreciate your understanding of this request and we thank you for your committee’s diligence in reviewing the budget figures,” Camacho added.

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