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Non-personnel cost-cutting measures allow CUC to avoid austerity, furloughs, says board chairwoman

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BECAUSE of the Covid-19 pandemic and its overall economic impact on the CNMI, the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. implemented several non-personnel-related measures to avoid austerity and furloughs, CUC board chairwoman Miranda Manglona said.

In an email to Variety, she said “CUC management recommended earlier this year that certain measures be put [in] place through board approval to reduce the overall expenses of the corporation and still allow operations to run safely while providing critical services of power, water and sewer to the community in the midst of this public health crisis.”

To avoid a “direct impact on CUC employees’ financial stability through drastic personnel-related measures such as layoffs,” Manglona said, CUC management “instead implemented several non-personnel-related cost-reduction measures, such as limiting overtime and corporate cell phone usage, and other cost-cutting measures, which have proven effective, so far, and which [have] allowed CUC to avoid austerity.”

Manglona added, however, that “with the ongoing health crisis and the continued economic setbacks, the board was left with no other option but to cease the annual performance-based salary increase…earned by  an employee after receiving a performance evaluation of satisfactory or higher.”

She said the board voted to cease the increase for fiscal year 2021 during the review and approval of CUC’s FY 2021 budget, which took effect on Oct. 1, 2020.

In the meantime, she added, employees who have not received a salary increase for FY 2020, but received a good or higher evaluation would still receive the annual increase for FY 2020.

“Those employees will receive their salary increment retroactively to their anniversary date as earned. Evaluations are still required to be conducted as it is positive feedback for both the employee and manager in ensuring corporate expectations and performance standards are met and the employees have a fair idea of areas they need to improve or maintain performance,” Manglona said.

“On behalf of the CUC board of directors, I extend our heartfelt appreciation to the hardworking CUC employees and their families for their continued support and understanding during this challenging period,” Manglona said. “The CUC board urges our CUC family and our community to stay safe.”

For his part, CUC Executive Director Gary Camacho told Variety that management is very happy with CUC staffers for doing a great job “despite the challenges, pandemic, and other economic crises affecting the utility company.”

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