Navajo Nation government budget process unfair to local government

Navajo Council Naabik'iyati Committee member Delegate Katherine Benally shows the committee how the tribal government budget process is unfair to local governments during a report to the committee in the Council chambers in Window Rock, Ariz., on Aug. 28, 2014. Photo by Marley Shebala. (Please provide proper photo credit when reusing photo.)

Navajo Council Naabik’iyati Committee member Delegate Katherine Benally shows the committee how the tribal government budget process is unfair to local governments during a report to the committee in the Council chambers in Window Rock, Ariz., on Aug. 28, 2014. Photo by Marley Shebala. (Please provide proper photo credit when reusing photo.)

The Navajo Council Naabik’iyati Committee is now listening to a report from Eastern Navajo Agency Council, Western Navajo Agency Council, Northern Navajo Agency Council, Fort Defiance Agency Council, and Chinle Agency Council regarding the 2015 budget needs of the reservation’s 110 chapters.

This is the first time that the chapters, which are represented by each of the five agency council presidents, have presented their annual budget needs to the Council’s top committee.

I was expecting to hear numbers. I understand that the veterans, elders and other community members have needs, but we need budget numbers.

I’d like to see numbers on the budgets that are unspent and that are carried into the next budget cycle. i was at a chapter where more than 50 percent of the local government budget for veterans were unspent.

It’s great that we are hearing from Agency Councils but we need written report with budget numbers. We need those budgets before Tuesday

We’d like to ask for a little more time to prepare written report with budgets.

we had our agency council meeting at St. Michaels and we addressed charter regarding Navajo Oil & Gas and i was shown email from Local Government Office Director Stanley Yazzie and so we don’t have budgets. $90,000 for two positions at the chapter. there are needs at chapter level and we have need for waterlines and powerlines. and the money that chapters receive is not enough. chapters have asked for additional funds. we also ask that certified and uncertified chapters be separated because certified chapters are still under central tribal government and there is so much red tape.

We were never given this kind of opportunity in the past. Mr. Tsosie i wanted to thank you for what you said, which is that the agency councils represent navajo communities and that we are a legitimate body. Also think Delegate Nelson Begay for invocation. And for those political candidates, I want to congratulate. This is what we have hoped for. Even though eleventh hour, we still appreciate a little more time to develop carry-over budgets and unmet needs. Hopefully, we will participate from beginning of 2016 budget. we would make that a priority. But a real need at chapter level is personnel especially maintenance and since Local Governance Centers will be closed and 16 new Local government administration centers will be opened. i also ask for additional funding for the stipend of elected officials at the local level. chapter officials make home visits for powerlines and waterlines. We also need grant writers.

I agree with request for additional time to develop unmet need budget. I’m sure that as delegates that you are familiar with our needs and we give our budgets to you. you are aware of the number of people that need powerlines and waterlines.

i’d like TO exlain what the Resources & Development Committee asked of the chapters when we met with them. A tribal program gets to present their budget to their Division, then to Executive Branch Budget Review Team and then to their standing committee and Budget & Finance Committee, then Naabik’iyati Committee and finally to Council. all along the way there is extra money for programs, whether shave from top by president. but this little program gets to four or five opportunities to present their budget. What do our chapters get? Whatever is not budgeted, council or B&F just budgets to chapters. This year’s proposed 2015 budget is $172 million. We asked chapters for Needs Based Budget and some submitted. Others asked why because they feel that the Council will not take action on their requests. So we need to hear from the chapters and the agency councils.

i am disappointed with agency councils and chapters. this is budget time. there is no excuse. Delegate Katherine Benally wrote to each chapters and asked them to submit budgets based on their needs. Some chapters took seriously and some didn’t. My chapters didn’t take seriously. WE may not fully fund but there should be budgets showing the needs of local communities and this is why our Navajo people are upset. i heard one need which is maintenance workers. Elders are asking for assistance with roof repair. we need at least two permanent positions. we also need workers to build earth dams. i was hoping to hear that. chapters need police protection and i was hoping to hear what i heard from Baca chapter which is that they are creating space for a police officer.

i try to work with chapters but all the chapters meet on the first of the month, like its their social security. so are our chapter officials really there for people or for the stipend. And many of these chapter officials are also full time tribal employees and so they rush back to their jobs instead of spending time at their chapter meetings and at the chapter. I kow Delegate K. Benally went out of her way to assist chapters in getting their budgets before Naabi and the Council.

I want to know why chapters are not brought into the annual budget process. I want to hear from president. this budget process starts in june. I encourage my chapters to prepare budgets and the chapters in my area do that. Next week the council is having its Budget Session. I want to hear from President, which oversees Executive Branch, which is where chapters are located. And the chapters are fortunate that an additional $12 million was available in the 2015 budget for chapters, plus an additional $4 million for Capital Improvement Projects at chapter level. If those additional funds didn’t come in, the chapters would barely meet their operating costs. I’d also like to hear from Chief of Staff Arbin Mitchell.

My concern is for the chapters to reach out to all community members. Some chapters are having serious problems with reaching a quorum of 25 which has resulted in the quorum number being reduced. I’d also like to see the amount of service money that goes to chapters because i don’t think that the chapters actually receive all those funds.

I hear that Land Claims funds are insufficient. many chapters run out of funds during the budget year and so some chapters can’t even pay for their utilities. There is also need for field engineers and field architects for chapters through the five agency offices. And the need for planning for local communities begins with roads, but in my area, very few roads are paved. And these concerns are what were brought to me by the local people.

and there is concern about the personnel equivalency clause which allowed education to equal work experience and work experience for education. however if janitor worked for six years then janitor’s experience allowed that janitor to be a teacher. and many of our supervisors don’t have expertise to carry out functions of a supervisor. we recommended to personnel to define minimum qualifications for each position.

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