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Navajo Nation Council approves $636 million budget for FY 2018
Proposed budget is $15 million less than last year
FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation Council has approved a $636 million comprehensive budget for fiscal year 2018.
Delegates voted 19-2 in favor of approving the budget, along with 18 amendments, on Thursday in Window Rock, Ariz., according to a press release from the Office of the Speaker.
The budget includes tribal revenue and external dollars from federal, state and private funding.
The executive branch would receive more than $587 million, the legislative branch would receive more than $15 million and the judicial branch would receive approximately $15 million, the release states.
During the three-day special session, delegates passed several amendments that requested carryovers for various departments and programs. A carryover is money not used during a financial year that is transferred to the budget for the following year.
The carryover requests included one by Delegate Kee Allen Begay Jr., who is seeking $5.5 million from the executive branch for the 110 chapters to use for home renovations.
Begay also proposed a $764,000 carryover from the executive branch for the Naschitti Chapter to use as recovery funds for residents affected by the 2014 Assayii Lake Fire.
Delegate Dwight Witherspoon proposed a carryover for the Division of Social Services' Strengthening Families Program and for its domestic violence shelter in Shiprock.
The release states that carryover amount will not be determined until all balances are reconciled at the end of fiscal year 2017, which ends Sept. 30.
"All previous councils that I have served with have always looked to addressing direct services at the local level so that the local level benefits. This council has been no different," Speaker LoRenzo Bates said about the budget in a telephone interview Friday.
The fiscal year 2018 budget is approximately $15 million less than the $651.4 million budget for fiscal year 2017.
Bates said the budget is developed using projected revenue, including royalties from coal, oil and gas.
The largest impact to the projected revenue was the decline in coal sales, which dropped after the closure of units 1, 2 and 3 at the Four Corners Power Plant, he said.
The Navajo Mine, which is owned by the tribe, supplies coal to the power plant.
"We started to see that decline when Four Corners started dismantling the three units. We, obviously, weren't providing as much coal as we had been," he said.
A similar situation is taking place at the Navajo Generating Station in Page, Ariz., he added.
"Their units have not been operational at the maximum level," the speaker said.
Bates has yet to sign the resolution containing the budget because it remains under review by his office and by the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of the Controller.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has 10 calendar days after the bill is submitted to his office to sign, veto or use his line-item veto authority on the measure.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.