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Rep. Manglona pushes hazard pay for solid waste management personnel

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REPRESENTATIVE Donald Manglona on Thursday expressed concern over hazardous pay owed, he said, to solid waste management personnel.

“For a while now, I’ve been trying to resolve this [issue] in regards to solid waste hazardous pay after making several attempts with [the Office of Management and Budget] and [the] Department of Finance,” he told his colleagues.

He said he has been approached by solid waste management personnel on Rota who have not received pay since January 2019.

“After going through the budget hearing from [the Department of Public Works on] Saipan and Tinian, it seems that they are going through the same problems. The last time any of these employees in all three districts received pay was back in January of 2019. In over a year and a half today, they have not been compensated,” he said.

Manglona said just one individual is owed roughly $8,000 from the time the employee last got paid to the end of fiscal year 2020.

“According to OMB, the money is there on paper, but it’s not in the account,” he added.

 

Rep. Donald Manglona, center, speaks during a House session on Thursday. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

“I’ve made several attempts to get clarification from the secretary of Finance, but have not received any response from him or any one of his staff, although they’ve mentioned they were preparing a response. This was two weeks ago, and I have not heard from them yet.”

He said based on the most recent funds status report and the DPW budget hearings, the second and third senatorial districts have a negative fund balance due to borrowing money from Docomo, as well as other emergency contracts.

“But Rota has had a positive balance for a while now, yet they are unable to utilize these funds to pay what is rightfully owed,” he added.

Manglona said  the entire Commonwealth is hurting, but “we are not asking for an arm and a leg.”

As for the Saipan casino license fee that was appropriated last year, the Department of Finance initially reported a negative balance for all three districts, with Rota owing somewhere around $500,000, Tinian around $2 million, and Saipan a little over $9 million.

“Yet Tinian and Saipan were able to use their entire appropriated funds. Whereas Rota had to pay a portion of that balance before they [could] use whatever is left,” he said.

He asked for the support of Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao and the House Committee on Ways and Means in asking the Department of Finance to resolve these issues so that the personnel are paid what they are owed.

“If we can find the funds to pay illegal overtime, I don’t see why we can’t find the funds to pay [these personnel], especially when these funds have been set aside,” he added, apparently referring to the “extra pay” received by cabinet and other administration officials during the emergency response to Super Typhoon Yutu and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“These individuals [at solid waste management] are exposed to all sorts of hazardous waste on a daily basis. We need to take care of them as they continue to provide these services,” Manglona added.

He said Rota has about seven to eight solid waste management personnel, Tinian has about the same while Saipan has more.

“We’re talking about over 20 individuals who have yet to receive this mandated hazardous pay…. During these tough times, this is when we need to take care of our people, especially when the job that they are doing is being affected by hazardous materials,” he added.

The House Committee on Ways and Means will be holding a budget hearing for the Department of Finance this Friday at 2 p.m. in the House chamber on Capital Hill.

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