By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Principal Chief Michell Hicks proposed the annual budget (FY 2016), the last one of his term, to Tribal Council on Tuesday, July 28. The total amount for the proposed budget is $557,860,773 which includes a total of 50 new tribal positions including eight at the New Kituwah Academy.
“I feel privileged that this is my twentieth budget presentation consecutively to this Tribal Council,” said Chief Hicks. “Over time, there’s been various debates over the priorities of the Tribe, but if you look back over the 20 years and all of the things that we’ve accomplished, it should make every one of us proud.”
The largest portion (49.30 percent) of the money for the FY16 budget is coming from the Tribe’s gaming operations. The remainder is coming from the following sources: Charges for Services 10.99 percent, General Fund 10.42 percent, Indirect 2.96 percent, Levy 2.47 percent, Privilege .35 percent, Grants 9.04 percent, Endowment #2 2.95 percent, Use of Fund Balance 2.72 percent, Donations and Contributions .48 percent, Other Transfers 7.41 percent, and Investment Earnings .93 percent.
“We continue to have a strong financial position,” Chief Hicks commented. “Since early 2000, we have quadrupled the privilege tax on this Boundary with just over $1.6 million in budgeted dollars.”
Cory Blankenship, EBCI Office of Budge & Finance director, gave a presentation on the FY16 budget on Tuesday. “We start this process in March with going out to the programs with a detailed budget workbook which essentially has the programs start at zero and they have to justify all of their expenses and all of their revenue for the year.”
He further explained, “That is the program’s opportunity to tell us what they’re currently doing, what they want to be doing, what they need to be doing and what financial resources will be required to meet those needs.”
Fiduciary Budgets account for most of the money spent in the FY16 Budget at 27.9 percent followed by Public Health and Human Services with 10.3 percent. The rest of the money goes as follows: Indirect Budget 3 percent, Pension 1.1 percent, Housing 2.1 percent, Operations 11.8 percent, Human Resources 3.1 percent, Law Enforcement and Detention 2.4 percent, Legal and Court .9 percent, Legislative .4 percent, Support Services 1 percent, Utilities and Sanitation 2.2 percent, Commerce Division 3 percent, Community Education and Recreation Services Division 5.3 percent, Executive Division .6 percent, Financial Division 1.2 percent, Information Technology .9 percent, Capital and Infrastructure Development and Land Purchases 8.7 percent, General Fund 11.9 percent, and Other .3 percent.
Chief Hicks spoke briefly on the new Building Enhancement Fund (formerly CIP Projects). “One of the things we’ve wrestled with is the competition of equipment versus buildings so what we’re trying to do moving forward is to separate that competition and have an equipment pool and a building pool so that we can do things without having to push others aside.”
Some of the projects in progress include: greenways enhancements, Painttown Community Building, Big Cove and Snowbird child care centers, new Maggie Wachacha Administrative Building, and Snowbird Senior Center.
Tribal Council began holding Budget Hearings for the FY16 Budget immediately following Blankenship’s presentation. Those hearings are expected to last for several weeks.