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Navajo Nation Council sets budget for fiscal year 2019

The Navajo Nation Council will send a comprehensive budget of approximately $767 million for fiscal year 2019 to tribal President Russell Begaye.

Navajo lawmakers voted 21-0 in favor of approving the budget last week after concluding a four-day budget session in Window Rock, Ariz., according to a news release from the Office of the Speaker.

The budget consists of approximately $164 million in general funds, and about $603 million in federal, state and private funding.

The amount is divided between the three branches, with the executive branch receiving approximately $704 million, while the legislative and judicial branches each receive about $16 million.

Approximately $27 million will go toward fixed costs and $3.8 million will be used to match capital outlay.

During the budget session, council members passed 25 amendments to the budget, according to the news release.

One of the amendments restricts the president’s office and the council from spending more than 33 percent of the budget prior to Jan. 8, 2019.

That date is when a new president, vice president and members of the 24th council will take the oath of office.

Another amendment produced new child protective services positions under the Department of Family Services.

To create the new jobs, the council moved $172,050 from two vacant positions in the president’s office.

Delegates approved a $1.8 million reallocation to fund unmet needs by tribal departments, offices and services.

They also passed carryover amounts from the current financial year to fiscal year 2019, which starts on Oct. 1.

Those amounts are $700,000 for capital outlay projects by the Department of Water Resources, $145,000 for the Navajo Nation Library to digitize records, $50,000 for the Department of Diné Education for consulting services, $56,000 for the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office for consulting services and the remaining operating budget for the Office of the Public Defender.

The budget includes a list for seven conditions of appropriation, which are contingencies placed by the council on money set aside for specific use by departments, divisions and programs. The appropriation cannot be used until the condition of appropriation is fulfilled.

One of the conditions is for the Office of the Controller and the Air Transportation Department to arrange the purchase of new airplanes for the tribe by March 31, 2019, which is the last day of the second quarter for the fiscal year.

Begaye vetoed a council resolution to secure a $20 million loan for three new airplanes. The Air Transportation Department has been seeking funding to acquire new aircraft since then.

Begaye has 10 calendar days after the bill is submitted to his office to sign, veto or use his line-item authority on the measure.