Navajo Nation approves $2.45 million for eastern Navajo district grazing committees

WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye signed a resolution Jan. 7 awarding $2.45 million from the Navajo Nation’s Unreserved, Undesignated Fund Balance in stipends for officials serving on district grazing committees and farm boards, as well as the Eastern Navajo Land Board.

The stipends address chronic underfunding of vital positions and complaints from officials who are tasked with the oversight of grazing, land and livestock issues in local chapters. The resolution authorizes a one-time appropriation of $1.7 million for district grazing committees, $483,000 for the Eastern Navajo Land Board, and $257,000 for farm boards.

“Some of these officials have additional employment, but others don’t,” Begaye said. “The stipends will help these individuals manage their responsibilities as farm, grazing and land officials, while receiving better compensation for their work.”

Officials already get bi-monthly checks. The stipends, which will be administered by the Division of Natural Resources, will help compensate officials for mileage, meeting attendance, supplies, regulation enforcement and other expenses.

The resolution also provides funding to address tax liability issues with the stipends, said Bidtah Becker, executive director of the Division of Natural Resources.

“I appreciate President Begaye’s leadership in ensuring that our elected officials receive the support they need to serve our Navajo Nation permittees,” Becker said.

President Begaye’s approval of the resolution marks the second time in four months he considered stipends for grazing, farm and land board officials. During the FY2018 comprehensive budget session in September, the Navajo Nation Council approved carryover funding from the previous fiscal year to cover the stipends.

President Begaye used his line-item veto authority to block the carryover but said in his veto message that he would support a funding request from the UUFB.

The Council on Dec. 22 approved Legislation No. 0446-17, with a 20-0 vote.

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