HERE AT NAVAJO COUNCIL WINTER SESSION, FIRST DAY. VICE PREZ JIM PRESENTED STATE OF NATION ADDRESS AND COUNCIL BEGAN ASKING QUESTIONS. VICE PREZ HAS BEEN ANSWERING BUT THEN HE ASKED CHIEF OF STAFF ARBIN MITCHELL AND DIVISION OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR DAMON TO HELP HIM ANSWER QUESTIONS.
COUNCIL approved renovation of two buildings that have closed due to mold. What I hear is that President Shelly’s had taken different direction that would require an additional $4 million. When this request came to Budget and Finance Committee, the budget was very specific about the amount of funding needed to open two buildings. We have tribal employees waiting. And there is nine months left in Shelly-Jim administration.
Regarding REVERSIONS of FEDERAL and STATE FUNDS, your report shows inconsistencies. And division directors that are responsible for spending money so money doesn’t revert back to states and federal government.
CHIEF OF STAFF ARBIN MITCHELL ASKED TO ANSWER QUESTIONS
On Workforce Development, an audit was done and after reading that and meeting with programs, we met with Council’s Health, education and Human Services Committee. It was found that money was not properly utilized but program used funds. But various line items used were not the ones to be used. And so we went invitation to federal Inspector General to come back and review Workforce Development books.
There is $1.2 million dollars for Bennett Freeze from feds that required Environmental Impact Statements. Had meeting with Bureau of Indian Affairs last week. So 2008 report might be proposed to replace the new request for assessment. I also asked Navajo Hopi Land Development Office to just start building houses. Little over year ago, we started looking at federal grants from 2000 and started working on closing those grants and have to be careful. Every quarter there is a contract that also has to be addressed. And we need to streamline our system which we did with Review Process or 164. And the other is Budget Instruction Manuel on how to close out budgets, etc. For the past six year, the nation had no approved Indirect Costs for programs to administer federal contracts and grants.
It is true, money didn’t come here. it was authorized. For Headstart, we were authorized for funding for 3,000 students but we were only able to register 2,000.
We know that Reserves is at $8 million and could increase when close out grants and contracts.
There is only four or five staff at Local Governance Office and so insufficient staff to assist chapters. so someone has to do compliance which ensures chapters are accountable for funds.
You have Navajo businesses trying to survive as Navajo imposes high taxes and so we plan to meet with Tax Office.
And with Headstart, we finally met with federal representatives. There are questions about maintaining facilities and so we have contracted for maintenance services. And we’re just out of facilities. Headstart is using modular buildings and we trying to go thru lengthy process of accepting modular buildings from federal government that went to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
And on the issue of Administration One and Two buildings. We used funds allocated by Budget and Finance Committee for renovations and decentralization. And I always said that renovation would be more expensive than a new building. We want to finish by April. So lot of these issues concern compliance which we have to do before further renovation continues. And those issues are using new windows and elevator to be replaced too. In working with Office of Management and bdugets director Dominic Beyal, I suggested we use all funds for both buildings for Admin One and get funds for Two so can get finished. And we just closed Navajo Environmental Protection building because of mold. And we lost one month after surveying employees.
And on state and federal funds being returned by Navajo Nation government, I asked Navajo Department of Justice to create language to hold division directors accountable.
DIVISION OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DAMON
I also need funds for DED project but we need land and so I understand the need for five chapter houses.
Bennett Freeze is on my radar. Two years funds released and beginning to work which involves land and we need to put in water lines, electric lines, waste projects. I would luv to put things out there but need to work with Chapters on land use planning plans. And this is new so Shelly-Jim administration is ready to do projects. I welcome going to Bennett Freeze.
Talking job creation – Bond cud return. Jobs were in infrastructure building of Bond.
We are open for business but we need infrastructure and priorities from local government.
Witherspoon asked for assistance for Regionalization and you want 64 staff and I only have 80 staff at DED.
On lobbying efforts, that has to be answered by Navajo Washington DC Office.
And yes tribal government buildings need to be addressed. These buildings were built in 1970s. And now that we have IDC rates, we can leverage and construct buildings. And use rental fees to pay back loan. There is funding for more tribal government buildings and business buildings but there is no land. I can’t get land in downtown Chinle. WE are paying 50 percent of cost for university students to work on design plans.
Delegate K. Benally asked where are jobs. We can get jobs if we can get private sector. We have none because of lack of land for business buildings for private sector. Let’s let bank handle business loans and if default then bank handles it. We can show you how to get cash for businesses.
Economic prosperity means investors and businesses want their investment to be safe which involves police and security. We need freeway. Let’s leverage dollars. WE have found that outsiders don’t want to invest on reservations. But if Navajo Nation offers tax incentives, businesses will come.