MARIANAS SCHOOLS THREATENED WITH POWER CUTS

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Utility company want over a million dollars in overdue bills

By Moneth G. Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Mariana Variety, Dec. 8, 2008) - The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has threatened to disconnect the power supply to public schools due to the non-payment of their bills, according to Board of Education Vice Chairman Herman T. Guerrero.

He said Commissioner of Education Rita A. Sablan recently received a notice from CUC Director Antonio Muna.

"They’re threatening to cut the power of our schools…because we haven’t paid the bills," Guerrero said. "With this current situation at our schools when they don’t have enough money for operations and all others, I challenge CUC if that’s the best option to take for our schoolchildren."

Guerrero, who is also the board’s fiscal and personnel affairs committee chairman, said utility consumption remains a major item that affects the school system’s budget. Starting in fiscal year 2007, PSS has been required to pay for its utilities. The central government used to pay the school system’s CUC bills.

Guerrero said if utilities will be included in the proposed US$36.4 million budget for PSS, "this will create more challenges for the schools."

PSS owed CUC US$1.34 million as of September 30, 2008.

This amount is not included in the school system’s current US$35.8 million budget.

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