SAIPAN - Zoning board Chairman Mariano Taitano said a moratorium on new bed-and-breakfast establishments on Saipan requires legislative action.
He was reacting to Rep. Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero, who has again asked the board not to consider new B&B applications, saying that some of the establishments are not paying hotel occupancy taxes.
“If we don’t collect this money, then we are losing out,” Guerrero said during a zoning board meeting last week.
Taitano said although he is “in full support” of a moratorium, it is the Legislature that should impose it.
“I was advised that the law has to be amended to authorize us [the board] to impose a moratorium on businesses that are not in compliance,” he added.
For his part, zoning board member Ignacio Demapan said the Department of Finance-Division of Revenue and Taxation and other agencies should form a team and identify bed-and-breakfast establishments that are not paying the hotel occupancy taxes.
“I’ve heard that a lot of these businesses are really abusing the tax system,” Frank Aguon, another zoning board member, said.
Aguon also asked Rep. Guerrero to specify how long the moratorium should be in effect.
Guerrero said Finance should determine the timeline “because they are the enforcers and they are responsible to collect taxes.”
Zoning board member Tatiana Babauta agreed that the problem with B&Bs should be addressed, but added that the Legislature must tell the zoning office how to resolve the issue.
Taitano said B&Bs are causing other “problems” on island.
For example, he added, some tenants have been forced to leave the apartments that they were renting after these were converted into B&Bs.