$22.7M CARES Act funding for CPA ready for drawdown

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THE Commonwealth Ports Authority has received $22,759,818 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act funding, which was made available for drawdown on May 27.

CPA board member and Financial Affairs Committee Chairman Ramon A. Tebuteb said CPA received the CARES Act grant offer in April and the grant agreement was executed in May. The grant is for a four-year period and is available at 100% federal share, he added.

Commonwealth Ports Authority Chairwoman Kimberlyn King-Hinds, right, takes notes as project manager/executive assistant Wendi Prater looks on during the CPA board meeting in the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting classroom on Wednesday. Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

Tebuteb said the funds are provided on a reimbursement basis.

CPA comptroller Skye Aldan Hofschneider, for her part, reported to the board that $4.1 million of the funds will be used for CPA debt service for fiscal years 2020 to 2022, and the rest will be made available for operations.

A portion of the CARES Act money will also fund public health safety measures for the airport personnel who will be provided with personal protective equipment and test kits.

CPA Chairwoman Kimberlyn King-Hinds shared one of the main issues that government agencies discussed with the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers regarding the reopening of the CNMI tourism industry tentatively set for July 15.

In the discussion, she said, “we were figuring out how to find a delicate balance between protecting public health and trying to stimulate or infuse money back into the economy.”

 

Commonwealth Ports Authority Financial Affairs Committee Chairman Ramon A. Tebuteb, right, reads his report to the board. Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

CPA, she said, could offer landing fee discounts to airlines similar to the rent relief that CPA granted to its tenants.

In the next CPA Financial Affairs Committee meeting, she said she would like to have a discussion on how CPA could partner with the airline industry “so we can all come out strong together economically after this Covid-19 pandemic for the benefit of the Commonwealth.”

Covid-19 airport action plan

CPA Executive Director Christopher Tenorio reported that the management team is now working on a Covid-19 mitigation plan. Soon, he said, they will be making a presentation on how CPA is preparing for the reopening of the tourism industry.

In his report, Tenorio said CPA “aims to minimize the potential adverse health impact of Covid-19 by slowing the spread of the disease in the Commonwealth and its ports. Also in minimizing the impact of the pandemic on the CNMI economy, CPA seeks to maintain trust among its airport partners and the traveling public.”

He said CPA is “dedicated to providing a safe, clean, and secure airport for its passengers, employees, and tenants by implementing best practices.”

Tenorio said CPA management has hired companies that will install Plexiglas on all counters and other critical areas at the airport, as well as markers on the floors to maintain social distancing.

The installation of Plexiglas and the markers should be completed by the end of June, he added.

Personal protective equipment, face masks, and test kits will also be provided to all CPA employees, he said.

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