Confusion reigns over distribution of gaming funds

WINDOW ROCK

The process of distributing gaming funds to chapters was met with some confusion during an update report given to the Budget and Finance Committee last Tuesday.

During the meeting, the committee was updated on the Gaming Distribution Plan. The Gaming Revenues Fund Management Plan states that the distribution policy allocates gaming revenues to chapters in a manner that recognizes both the immediate and long-term needs of the Navajo Nation, specifically for capital improvement projects and utilities.

The committee learned that the Office of Management and Budget “refused” to process requests from chapters if requests are “split” –meaning chapters requested funds and divided their request of where funds would be used rather than using it toward one main use.

LaTonia B. Johnson, of the Department of Justice, said this was what was causing the holdup. “There were chapters dividing their requests … upon review … there’s prohibition for chapters to divide their requests,” said Johnson. “So long as the chapters submit required documents.”

Budget and Finance Chair Seth Damon said chapters will soon be having their utilities turned off because OMB will not allow this divided request and they will only allow for one request of where the dollars should go. “OMB is telling chapters they are not eligible to do that, that they have to pick one or the other,” said Damon.

Both Johnson and Damon stated that the director of OMB, Dominic Beyal, was not answering emails on the matter from Department of Justice. Beyal later arrived at the meeting and explained chapter requests to receive gaming distribution funds did not meet federal gaming guidelines, which stipulate that funding must be used to serve the general public and not individual homes. He added that there were concerns regarding how the budgets are set up and they should be clarified for proper funding allocation.


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Categories: Politics

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát’oh dine’é Táchii’nii, Bit’ahnii, Kin łichii’nii, Kiyaa’áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com.