Navajo Nation Council passes 2015 Budget

Delegates approve budget in one day with only six amendments

WINDOW ROCK - The Navajo Nation Council approved the Navajo Nation Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Comprehensive Budget along with six amendments Sept 2.

Previous Council budget sessions generally lasted about four days, but this time the entire comprehensive budget was passed on the first day with few amendments and no further discussion regarding the allocation of the Nation's funds.

Council Delegate Jonathan Nez (Shonto, Navajo Mountain, Oljato, Ts'ah Bii Kin), the legislation sponsor, said he attributed the quick passing of the Nation's budget to the leadership of council members.

"The experience of this council guided budget discussions at the standing committee level with each program and all through the budget development process. We passed the budget in one day because of our diligence from the very outset. I commend each member of the council for their hard work on arriving at a sensible and progress budget," Nez said after the meeting.

Nez also said the budget process was streamlined with the help of Navajo Nation Office of Management and Budget, the Navajo Nation Office of the Controller, legislative staff, and all divisions and departments who submitted their budgets in a timely manner.

Council Delegate Danny Simpson (Becenti, Crownpoint, Huerfano, Lake Valley, Nageezi, Nahodishgish, Tse'ii'ahi, Whiterock) proposed an amendment to overturn a previous provision by the Naabik'iyátí' Committee, which eliminated the entire funding of the Navajo Nation Regional Business Development Offices (RBDO), and was transferred to project development, both under the Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development.

Delegate Simpson's amendment passed with a vote of 12-1.

Speaking in support of reinstating the Development Offices' funding, Council Delegate Katherine Benally (Chilchinbeto, Dennehotso, Kayenta) said in conjunction with Simpson's amendment, she proposed a Condition of Appropriation on the RBDO's.

"This COA would allow the RBDO's to coordinate with the Navajo Division of Economic Development to revisit the plan of operation by the end of the second quarter of FY2015, but the services will be moved to each [regional agency of the Navajo Nation]," Benally said.

Benally said that reinstating the funding for the RBDO's would allow potential Navajo businesses to start up at their local agencies in hopes of creating a plan that would simplify the process in starting a business on the Navajo Nation.

Benally's amendment to include the additional COA passed with a vote of 13-0.

Another key amendment proposed by Council Delegate Alton Joe Shepherd (Jeddito, Cornfields, Ganado, Kin Dah Lichii, Steamboat), will transfer any remaining balances from completed capital improvement projects to a new business unit, which would be the responsibility of the Resources and Development Committee to reallocate the funds to other capital improvement projects projects that need more money.

"These projects that go through the process can take so long to get done, and that is one of the reasons for holdups. We are talking about moving things along, and reallocating leftover funding to existing CIP projects so they can be completed quickly," Shepherd said.

The amendment passed with a vote of 14-1.

Other amendments include allocating $500,000 to the Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources for a water irrigation system, $100,000 to create the Navajo Nation Judicial Conduct Commission, and funding for Cornfields Chapter to aid in renovation and asbestos and mold abatement.

Council members voted 14-2 to pass the budget.

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