Tribal Government & News

More virus relief payments slated for the summer

06.04.2020 Dean Rhodes Tribal Council

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

Adult Tribal members will see a series of three virus relief payments totaling $1,800 over the summer.

Tribal Council instructed the Finance Department on Wednesday, May 27, to prepare a third supplemental budget that will allocate $8.1 million that the Tribe received in federal funding to fund the virus relief payments.

The approximately 4,500 adult Tribal members will each receive $600 at the end of June, July and August, according to a May 27 post on the Tribal government’s Facebook page.

The funding comes from the Tribe’s share of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act monies. Although the Tribe has not disclosed exactly how much it has received in CARES Act funding, a Harvard study estimates it at being approximately $33 million based on the U.S. Treasury’s announced formula for determining allocations to Tribes.

The summer disbursements will bring the total number of coronavirus relief payments to five and help Tribal members affected by the pandemic and the probable absence of a June per capita distribution because Spirit Mountain Casino was closed from mid-March through June 1. By the end of summer, adult Tribal members will have received $2,600 in virus relief financial aid, which is approximately 56 percent of per capita distributed in 2019.

The third supplemental budget will be posted in the coming days, the Facebook post said, and Tribal members will have 15 days to comment on it before it is officially adopted by Tribal Council.

Tribal Council approved on Thursday, May 21, a second $1.9 million supplemental budget that sent another virus relief payment to adult Tribal members to help them deal with the financial effects caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The second round of virus relief payments sent $400 each to adult Tribal members.

“We recognize that many of our Tribal members are struggling during these challenging times,” said a Tribal Council statement posted on the Tribal government’s Facebook page on Thursday, May 7. “The Grand Ronde family is not limited by state or national borders. Our goal is to get assistance to Tribal members no matter where they live and we hope that these actions will help our membership navigate these uncertain times.”

Tribal Council discussed the second round of virus relief payments during a Tuesday, May 5, meeting and the proposed supplemental budget was posted at the Governance Center the following day.

Finance Officer Chris Leno said that the checks and direct deposits were distributed on Thursday, May 28.

Tribal Council approved the first supplemental $1.8 million budget on April 23 and $400 payments were mailed out and deposited directly into Tribal members’ bank accounts on April 29.

The additional $100,000 in the second supplemental budget is earmarked for the Social Services Department’s Emergency Assistance Program that provides emergency rental/housing assistance and emergency utility assistance to Tribal members.

Because of the pandemic, the Tribe has made some exceptions to its normal policies regarding assistance. Tribal members in need should contact Administrative Assistant Tammy Garrison at 503-879-2077 to discuss their situation and receive assistance or guidance.