Principal Chief Patrick Lambert is proposing a new budget for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for FY2016 as well as a new organizational chart for tribal programs.
“The revised budgets were developed from the previous budgets that were presented in July by each program,” Chief Lambert wrote in a memo to tribal employees on Sunday, Nov. 22. “We took each of those and looked at them from a ‘needs-based’ approach using true historical amounts expended previously in each line item and used that number to give us a truer needs-based number. We also applied the concepts of fiscal responsibility and made some reductions in excessive line items that have been subject to waste and abuse, such as travel, etc.”
Chief Lambert said his team was able to “identify and cut” $30,397,313 from the budget. “That is a huge number, and it was done without costing a single job or anyone taking a pay cut or any program services being cut!”
Former Principal Chief Michell Hicks proposed his FY2016 budget on July 28 to the tune of $557 million.
In his memo, Chief Lambert disputed that amount, “We also identified that the previous administration understated the actual number for the budget by over $22 million. There were a few key expenses left out of the previous budget including the loan repayments that are set to begin this yaer for the new Hospital and the new Waste Water Treatment Plant, and also, they did not include the cost for the new Drug Treatment Center. So, the reconciled budget number we began working from was $580.2 million. We have, therefore, captured those costs and included them in our new budget, and we are still able to have a positive balance of almost $8,000,000.”
The new organizational chart combines some programs and divisions and eliminates the deputy level positions and replaces them with secretary level positions. “Every program remains intact and fully funded but may be repositioned for better accountability and efficiency…the new org chart is structured in such a way to maximize efficiencies and to place programs into a Department with similar functions and responsibilities.”
The new Departments, all headed by a Secretary, include: Department of Housing, Department of Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Human Resources, Department of Commerce, Department of Public Safety, Department of Administration and Public Works, Department of Public Health and Human Resources, Department of Education, and Attorney General.
Chief Lambert also reported in his memo that over $300 million in fund balances were found to exist throughout the tribal budgets. “A fund balance is where a program has more money than it needs for the year’s operation and is then allowed to ‘sit’ on that extra amount and let the balance keep climing. We, therefore, have begun the strategic use of those fund balances, and this allows us to be able to better utilize our capital.”
– One Feather staff report