Proposed budget includes funds for decentralization

By Antonio Ramirez
Navajo Times,

WINDOW ROCK, September 05, 2013

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A fter months of discussion, planning, meetings and calculations, the Navajo Nation Fiscal Year 2014 Comprehensive Budget came up for final consideration by the Navajo Nation Council this week.

If the budget is approved, then the tribe will have $572 million to work with this coming year, including $3 million to decentralize some services and $1.7 million to clean up Administration buildings 1 and 2. The money comes from various sources including national and state governments.

Of the total money, $28 million will be invested in the Navajo Nation Permanent Trust Fund for fiscal year 2014. This amount is roughly 12 percent of the general fund revenue projection of 2014, which is produced by the Office of the Controller and approved by the Budget and Finance Committee.

According to Dominic Beyale, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, a large part of the annual budget process is driven by the annual revenue projection, which for the year of 2014 is $235 million.

In addition to the money allocated to the Navajo Nation Permanent Trust Fund, $9 million will be invested in the Navajo Veterans Trust Fund; $5 million will be invested into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund; $2 million will go to the Water Rights Claim Fund; $1.5 million to the Historical Trust Asset Mismanagement Litigation Trust Fund; and $11 million to the Diné Higher Education Grant Fund.

Tuesday's budget session discussion focused solely on the annual audit report prepared by auditing firm KPMG LLP.

One of the primary criticisms of the audit report was that it only reports up to Sept. 30, 2011.

"The audit report is more than two years old. Information in there is very distant from today's budget," said Delegate Leonard Tsosie (Littlewater/Pueblo Pintado/Torreon/Whitehorse Lake/Baca/Prewitt/ Casamero Lake/Ojo Encino). "At the same time, we learned a lot about the trust funds. I noticed from the Council session that that was the bigger benefit from [the audit report]."


The completion of the 2012-2013 audit reports has been delayed because access to financial documents has been limited by a court order to shut down Administration Buildings 1 and 2 for mold.

If Council approves the budget, $1.7 million will be used to restore the buildings, which will enable the auditors to complete 2012-2013 reports.

The Council voted on Tuesday to approve the 2011 audit by 12-4.

"I voted against it in the end because they could have done more," said Tsosie. Among the complaints at the meeting there included the absence of paperwork requested last week during the Naa'bik'iyati' Committee's review of the budget. "Council members were upset with the [Office of the] Controller because they requested information and expected to have it by the time the Council started, but didn't get it," Tsosie said.

In addition, $3 million of the budget will be allocated to the Decentralization Project.

Delegate Lorenzo Bates (T'iistsoh Sikaad/Nenahnezad/Upper Fruitland/Tse' Daa' Kaan/Newcomb/San Juan) said, "Decentralization is service orientated. For one reason or another, our chapters have come to Window Rock to get approved on an initiative, or get legal payments. We all know how long that takes in a bureaucracy. The thought is to take those requirement services to the local level."

As of now the $3 million designated to the Decentralization Project is unbudgeted and the money will be given to the Community Development Office.

The Council is slated to continue budget discussions today (Thursday) and tomorrow.

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