Mayors fight over money; Merizo mayor walks out

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At the center of the discussion was the per village appropriation approved by the majority of the body, which standardized the amount each village would be receiving for street maintenance and beautification, regardless of the size of the village population or the road mileage of the village. (PNC photo)

Mayors were at odds during this morning’s Mayors Council meeting over the FY 2021 budget appropriation for village streets maintenance and beautification.

At the center of the dispute was the per village appropriation approved by the majority of the body, which standardized the amount each village would be receiving for street maintenance and beautification, regardless of the size of the village population or the road mileage of the village.

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During the heated discussion at the MCOG meeting, Merizo Mayor Ernest Chargualaf walked out.

Mayors Council President Melissa Savares, the mayor of Dededo, the largest village on island, spoke about the changes in the appropriation, warning that she and the other mayors of the biggest villages on the island will be challenged to fill in the funding gaps.

“We had a vote of 14 yes votes and two who voted against it. I was, of course, was one of the two, Dededo being the largest village. It didn’t feel that the allotment was fair enough for us. It will be very difficult to operate with the funding in our community,” Savares said.

She added: “Of course, there is a majority of smaller villages. But the four largest villages feel the effect of any type of budget cut because of our population and the number of people that we serve. So of course today — using the formulas that were presented by Mayor Chargualaf — the body relooked at the numbers. The smaller villages, they are more than us, agreed and made a motion to accept the new numbers —the new allotment breakdown — and they voted on it,” Savares said.

According to Mayor Savares, Dededo previously received around $44,000. But with the changes, appropriations are now set at $12,885 in all districts.

Savares said she would have to think of other means to fill in that gap. One of the measures she is eyeing is a change in the fees for funeral escort services provided at the village level.

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