Council on bill to increase Sales Tax for fire & rescue

LEGISLATION 0355-17: An Act Relating to the Law and Order, Budget and Finance, and
Naabik’fyati’ Committees, and the Navajo Nation Council; Amending 24 N.N.C. § 620 of the Navajo Nation Sales Tax; Allocating 1 Percent of the Sales Tax to Navajo Nation Fire and Rescue Services SPONSOR: Honorable Walter Phelps CO-SPONSOR: Honorable Benjamin L. Bennett

NAVAJO DIVISION OF PUBLIC SAFETY JESSIE DELMAR, thank you Delegate Bennett for sponsoring this bill and thank DPS staff for being here. A lot of Navajo communities exist on volunteer fire department and existing staff really busy and responding in areas across reservation. But one frustrating thing in supervising fire department is money. they get small amount and not improve services. Fire Chief Chee pounding and pounding and found this source. I dk how existed without this fire service cuz tied to insurance, economic development, schools, and communities need to progress. Thisi s a very good opportunity for Navajo Nation, employment across Navajo. Really looking forward if can do this, making history and making fire services more professional. together we can improve fire services.

NAVAJO NATION FIRE CHIEF LARRY CHEE, years since 1982 operated with limited to no fund. today we want to ask for your support and vote to enact this law with 1 percent of sale tax across reservation and use to fund manpower, trainin personnel, equip and purchase additional equipment and overall improve fire and rescue services. what does the fire department do? lot we do 24/7. probably just see flashing lights and fire trucks but also extreact patients from vehicle, wildland fire, teach community fire safety and medical services so we get into the homes, relatives and community teach fire safety not only kids, but adults and elders.

DELEGATE BEN BENETT, we need to increase funding. the interior allocation for roads gets $6M and cover 27,000 square mile. fire services get $4.4M to cover same space and definitely need and definitely need your support.

DELEGATE WITHERSPOON, it sasys Sales Tax but not Sales Tax, refers to tax that tax office collects so tax commiioners have abiity to tax up to  percent. this body doesn’t have ability to raise; commioiners does. this is a new tax. so i would ask legislative counel Levon Henry to take out sale tax. it is basically Fire, Safety, Rescue Tax.

NAVAJO SALES TAX OFFICE MARTY ASHLEY, there are nine taxes one is Sales Tax so ask to remain with Sales Tax. Just increasing Sales Tax by 1 percent.

DELEGATE WITHERSPOON, when did health food tax it was not part of Sales Tax and i am still of opinion that it is its own tax. Tax Commissioner can increase tax, not this body and have to disagree with tax director. ask for clarification from chief legislative counsel and department of justice.

CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL LEVON HENRY, Law and Order reallocated five percent Sales Tax.

SPEAKER BATES, I ASKED CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL THAT  WITH AMENDMENT PASSED AT BUDGET AND FINANCE, AND LAW AND ORDER, WOULD THAT CHANGE INTENT OF LEGISLATIVE HEADING.

DELEGATE WITHERSPOON, when is next Tax Commision meeting cuz they would increase Sale Tax from 5 percent to 6 percednt.

TAX OFFICE DIRECTOR MARTY ASHLEY, upon approval by Council, it will be presented, regulations is where Tax Commisiosn has authority to change and when updated, they will name effective for Sale Tax and increase from 5 to 6 percent. And that occurs when Tax Commision approves. Commission has quarterly meeting, march or April, and if this passed then I would recommend meeting sooner, February or march. in this bill it would help to have effective date but Tax Commission would ID effective date.

DELEGATE TOM CHEE, i’m concerned about raising taxes on pple. there is 2 percent junk food tax hitting only certain population and almost half of 5 percent. some stores charge extra 2 percent ton top of 5 percent. I strongly disagree with Junk Food Tax to tax poor pple so become aware of unhealthy habits and tax available for upper income pple to exercise at chapter. this tax is for public safety, property protection, community development and so i hope as delegates represent communities that we gather enough courage to provide alternative ways to access healthier food. our poor pple have to drive hours to drive to work and drive back, no time to exercise. so what saying is junk food tax has to go away. sounds good on paper, publicity, exercising but who are pple financing when have limited choices of healthy food and tax for fire department, that is worth while to distribute across to Navajo pple. other is very specific and no access healthy food and punish them with junk food tax.

TRIBAL JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, not increase Sales Tax but for amount Fire & Rescue want, the Tax Commision would have to increase.

SPEAKER BATES, TO KEEP AT LEVEL OF FUNDING THAT GOES TO CHAPTERS FROM SALES TAX, THE TAX COMMISSION WOULD HAVE TO INCREASE SALES TAX FROM 5 PERCENT TO  PERCENT.

DELEGATE LEONARD PETE, have to have fire protection for community development especially in large communities. We are raising revenue for business development but we need to be able to tell them that we have fire protection.

DELEGATE JONATHAN PERRY, in Crownpoint, we are covered by county but our fire department is in dire need and we will contribute to sale tax but we will not benefit. other communities are in same position. And there was fire and fire department responded but there was no water in fire hydrant and firefighters had to watch house burn.

DELEGATE EDMUND YAZZIE, ask that we support this bill and there are lot of questions about fire hydrants. but this is first step in dealing with fire and rescue services. understand not raising taxes but there are numerous shopping places here and we still go to bodertowns where taxes double. McKinley County provides fire and rescue units. And we were on way to take our cat to veterinary when got call from Crownpoint about cat on transmission line for two days. Called fire chief and firefighters out there to rescue cat. I wouldn’t have cared about cat if not for daughter but thought that cat could get fried and knock power to Crownpoint.

SPEAKER BATES, IF LOOK AT BUDGET & FINANCE AMENDMENTS, YOU STILL NEED SECTION 4 SO DOES THAT NEED TO BE DELETED?

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, directive to reallocate Sale Tax so recommend to deleta.

DELEGATE CROTTY, i support and thank you Delegate Bennett for sponsoring. page 3 or 4, line 4 says fund management come before council so recommend that fire hydrant available, that if fire hydrant working. And senior centers asking for fire hydrants. heard story about fire truck with water and insufficient water and no fire hydrant then nothing gained. Hope for fire chief that this approves. And also ask for community training and also how do support volunteer firefighters.

DELEGATE LEE JACK, when fire the response time is two hours, really ridiculous. let’s bring down to minutes.

COUNCIL VOTES 16-0 ON LEGISLATION 0355-17 AT 2:40 PM, THURSDAY, JAN. 25.

 

 

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