Tribal leaders approved a $19.7 million budget for fiscal year 2021.
During the first day of the two day Tribal Executive Board meeting last week, the council approved of the new budget, which Tribal Comptroller Randy Red Path said was difficult to put together with the Coronavirus pandemic.
Without being able to meet one on one with applicable department/program managers and to ensure that the appropriations will be adequate to address expenditures related to COVID-19 needs, Red Path stated. The budget includes a General fund contingency reserve of approximately $218,399, which may not be sufficient to fund any shortfalls in revenue/resources projections included in the FY 21 Draft Budget. This reserve should be much larger due to the financial uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some may be modified and/or eliminated based upon the TEB discussion and final approval.
This budget has been prepared with the best estimates available and with the hope that the pandemic will come to an end in the near future, documents state.
The highlights of the FY21 budget include appropriations in the approximate amount of $19.7 million to fund the general government operations that provide services to the members of the Fort Peck Tribes, the Minerals operations, and to fund land purchases under the Land Buy Back Program.
This budget includes a provision for a Per Capita distribution in the amount of $100 per Tribal member; a two percent cost of living adjustment for all employees funded by the Tribes, documents state.
Appropriations in the amount of $400,000 is included. It’s based upon the hazard pay funded by the Tribes in FY20, this amount would fund approximately three months of hazard pay for the existing tribal staff.
Funding for the continuation of projects and other appropriations approved during FY ’20.
Appropriated fund balance is included in the amounts of $400,000, S338,082, $148,896, $89,911 for Hazard Pay, Improvements to the Community Centers funded by the Sonosky, Chambers & Sachse donation, improvements to the boilers and the heating/air conditioning of the Tribal Complex (Phase II & III), as well as improvements for the boilers and ventilation systems on the Bureau of Indian Affairs part of the Medicine Bear complex (Phase I), documents state.
Regarding the $400,000 in appropriated for Hazard Pay, $200,000 is still remaining from a Budget Modification approved in FY ’20, according to documents.
Regarding the Minerals operations, this budget only includes appropriations in the amount of $250,000, and this should provide funding for approximately four months, as the TEB is planning to separate (spin-off) the operations to another entity. At that time, a loan will be made to that entity for start-up costs, documents state.
The Tribes General Revenue for FY21 is $14,630,783.
Recurring income for this year is $6,025,675, and this comes from leases, business rentals, grazing and land leases, royalties from oil wells, severance tax, and miscellaneous trust income and right of way tax from the Northern Border Pipeline.
Non-recurring income from miscellaneous revenues and tribal property leases and rentals were altogether $35,108. According to documents, this is for the new Tribal Sponsorship Health Insurance Program.
“Other income” list accounts for tribal investment income, utility taxes, business taxes through the Tribal Employment Rights Office. State contributions include the alcohol and cigarette tax revenue, severance tax revenue, and the gas tax revenue. Indirect costs and gaming make up for the rest, with the Tribes taking $1.6 million this year, documents state.
The various programs of the Fort Peck Tribes brought $1,961,261 in revenue. A large appropriated fund balance for $338,082 was added to the revenue. The source of this fund was left over money for a boiler and heating ventilation air conditioning for Phase II of the Medicine Bear complex (aka the BIA side).
Other programs are Tribal Court, Fish and Game, Buffalo Ranch, Transportation, Office of Environmental Protection, Solid Waste collections, election related revenue, and rent from the Tribes Health Promotion Disease Prevention program at the old A&S Tribal Industries building.
Oil operations brought the Tribes $250,000 in revenue, documents state.
Finally, the Land Buy Back Program revenue is $2,843,658.
Revenue is subject to change if gaming and grant program operations are temporarily suspended due to COVID-19.
Funding the Tribes
Tribal programs provide services for thousands of people, and without these programs the Tribes could not continue daily operations.
The largest allocation is $1,980,299 for Central Administration; followed by the Tribal Council with $1,909,974.
Per-cap is listed as having $1,318,280 for FY21, then $1,672,100 for ‘Program Allocations’; and $1,163,788 for the Tribal Courts.
Legal services by tribal attorneys is $967,952
Tribal Hazard Pay (COVID-19) is $400,000.
Community Services is funded for $773,195.