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FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez used his line-item veto power to eliminate $1.4 million the tribal council approved as emergency funds for the 110 chapters.

Nez rejected the bill that allocated the amount from the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance on Feb. 14, citing concern for the decline in the tribe's annual revenue and uncertainty over its financial outlook.

The Navajo Nation Council passed the bill in a vote of 23 in favor and zero opposed on Jan. 28.

The purpose was to have each chapter carry a balance of $25,000 to respond to emergency situations this winter.

In the Feb. 14 memorandum to Speaker Seth Damon, Nez called on the delegates to delay such funding requests due to ongoing discussions about planning the tribe's fiscal matters.

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This includes reducing gaps in the annual budget by using interest income from the Permanent Trust Fund, an action the president stated is under development between his office, the Budget and Finance Committee and Delegate Jamie Henio, who is the committee chairman.

"This plan is important enough that I urged the council to forego other funding request until we have worked on the Permanent Trust Fund Five-Year Plan and I appreciate delegates responding by placing other funding request on hold," Nez wrote.

The press release from the president's office stated that the Division of Community Development reported to the council that unspent emergency funds for the chapters total more than $2 million.

"The total overall unspent funds for all chapters are far greater," the release states.

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The release also states that Department of Emergency Management reported to the council there have been no emergency declarations or any chapter resolutions seeking emergency assistance this season.

"We must not forget the teachings of our parents and grandparents — T'áá hwó' ajít'éego — (meaning) self-reliance. Make sure there is enough food stored from the fall harvest, chop enough wood to keep your home warm, and always have hay and other feed for the animals. As a nation we have survived by keeping to our teachings and we must continue to do so," Nez said in the release.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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