For the first time since 2013, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians tribal government will not be operating on a continuing resolution at the beginning of the fiscal year which starts Sunday, Oct. 1. Tribal Council voted unanimously by those present during its clean-up session on Thursday, Sept. 28 to approve the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Operating Budget as presented.
The total approved budget for the upcoming year is $604,723,369.00. The figure is an increase over the FY17 proposed budget by $39,434,876.00, but a decrease from the FY17 revised budget of $646,187,187.00.
The FY16 proposed budget was $558,023,273.00; approved budget $559,518,253.00 with $665,379,940.00 actually being spent; an increase of $125,422,841.00.
Gaming revenues are budgeted at a 5 percent increase over the prior year and are conservatively estimated. Other revenues to the tribe have increased as well including Tribal Levy (sales tax) at 5 percent over the prior year, and privilege tax (occupancy tax) at 16 percent over the prior year. The recurring operating budget of the tribe increased by $6,600,000.00 as well, a 4 percent increase over the prior year.
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed said, “Our Finance Division is a dedicated staff who have sacrificed much of their personal time over the past few months to make this budget approval possible. The staff are to be commended for their efforts, which are above and beyond the normal expectations of their work.”
Angela Votaw, EBCI Office of Budget and Finance planning and analysis manager, stated, “The annual budget process can be long and difficult, but I have a team that works very hard and is passionate about doing a great job. We worked hand-in-hand with program staff, Executive, and Tribal Council and, as we go into FY18, we all have a budget that we can be proud of.”
But, the work does not end there. Budget management is an ongoing process requiring planning and administration. Cory Blankenship, EBCI Secretary of Treasury, says the Office of Budget and Finance, in coordination with the Principal Chief and Vice Chief, will host a series of planning sessions when the new Tribal Council is seated to discuss long-term capital projects, community service initiatives, member benefits, housing, education and other topics. “It is important for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to not only have a long-term vision for where we would like to be, but to also develop sound operational and financial strategies that will take us to the next level.”
Angela Votaw concluded, “We are all very excited to move forward in FY18, and we will continue to work hard to safeguard the financial assets of the Tribe while ensuring that we provide the best service.”
– EBCI Office of Public Relations