Voters to weigh in on transportation stimulus plan

Referendum calls for spending $216 million on roads

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Navajo Nation
  • The amount also will be used for bridge and gravel development.
  • The money will be spent at a rate of $36 million a year.
  • Two-thirds of Navajo Nation voters must approve the measure for it to become law.

FARMINGTON — A referendum to use $216 million from the principal for the Navajo Nation's Permanent Trust Fund for road projects will be placed before voters this fall.

The Navajo Board of Election Supervisors set the special election for Oct. 24, according to the Navajo Election Administration.

Voters will be asked to approve using $216 million from the principal of the Permanent Trust Fund to improve roads throughout the reservation.

The amount will also be used for bridge and gravel development in areas identified by the Navajo Division of Transportation.

The $216 million will be spent over six years at $36 million annually.

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Tribal law mandates the principal of the permanent trust fund shall not be expended unless a referendum is conducted and passed by two-thirds of registered voters who cast ballots in the election.

In July, the Navajo Nation Council approved using $218,943 in supplemental funding from the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance to the election administration to conduct the referendum.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye signed the council resolution on July 28.

According to budget forms attached to the resolution, the money will be used for stipends and mileage for poll officials, to purchase various supplies, and for print and radio advertising.

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The council approved the referendum in October, but an extension was approved in January to allow time for the election administration to secure funding for the special election.

The election board had initially scheduled the special election for the referendum for Jan. 24, but the election office cancelled it due to insufficient funding.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.