No layoffs for Navajo Nation
By Marley Shebala
WINDOW ROCK, August 31, 2012
That was the decision of the Navajo Nation Council's Budget and Finance Committee on Monday and the committee reaffirmed their decision on Thursday.
B&F Committee Chairperson LoRenzo Bates (Nenahnezad/Newcomb/San Juan/T'iistoh Sikaad/Tse'Daa'Kaan/Upper Fruitland) informed the Navajo Times on Thursday that the committee met with President Ben Shelly on Monday and Shelly assured them that there would be no layoffs.
Bates said executive office staff reported to the committee on Tuesday that Shelly had issued a memo to all executive branch division and programs to eliminate any layoffs through the use of vacant job positions.
Bates also said that the committee informed Shelly that the committee identified more than 900 vacant positions in the 2012 executive branch budget during the committee hearings on the proposed 2013 tribal government operating budget.
Shelly oversees the executive branch budget.
Bates added that the meeting with Shelly and executive office staff was part of the committee 2013 budget hearings.
He said that the B&F Committee learned about Shelly's failure to carry out their instructions after reading a news story in the Navajo Times on Thursday.
The story reported Shelly's announcement in a Monday press release that he had reduced the proposed layoffs of 150 employees to 27.
The actual layoff number stated by Shelly in his Monday press release was 28. The Navajo Times apologizes for its error.
Bates recalled how Shelly assured the committee that he would carry out their instructions to remove all layoffs through the use of job vacancies.
But he said it's clear from the president's press release on Monday that he's decided not to honor his agreement with the committee to eliminate all layoffs with job vacancies.
And so Bates said the B&F committee approved a condition of appropriation on the Office of the President and Vice President's proposed 2013 budget for all layoffs to be removed through the use of vacant job positions by the second quarter of the 2013 budget year.
A condition of appropriation is used in the legislative process during the annual budget session only. The COA is attached to a certain budget and indicates conditions placed on expenditure of funds. Those conditions must be carried out within a certain timeframe.
In most cases, the enforcer of the condition of appropriation is the Office of the Controller. And if a COA is not met, the controller's office has the authority to stop the funding of that program until the COA is met.
The Navajo Times emailed executive office Chief of Staff Sherrick Roanhorse and Erny Zah, Shelly's public information officer for a comment on Friday but had not received a response.