Tribal Government & News
Tribal Council approves 2022 spending plan
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signals editor
Tribal Council approved the 2022 Tribal budget that reflects a more than 35 percent increase in revenues and expenditures over the previous year during its Wednesday, Dec. 15, meeting.
Tribal members had until Monday, Dec. 6, to submit comments on the draft version of the budget, which was mailed to the membership in the November Tilixam Wawa and explained in executive session by Finance Officer Chris Leno during the virtual Nov. 7 General Council meeting.
Leno said the Tribe received one comment regarding the proposed spending plan and that the increase is attributable to the Tribe receiving more than $51 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding. Tribes have until the end of 2024 to spend the federal monies.
“It’s a 35.4 percent increase,” Leno said. “Of that, 80.4 percent of the increase is from ARPA and other federal and state funding. The balance would be additional casino dividend.”
During the Tuesday, Dec. 14, Legislative Action Committee meeting, Tribal Council member Jack Giffen Jr. said he supports the spending plan except he was hoping that half of the funds allocated for the rehabilitation of the former Blue Heron Paper Mill site in Oregon City would be used to construct mental health trauma and daycare centers.
Tribal Council member Kathleen George said Tribal Council members are in support of building a daycare center in Grand Ronde, but Tribal administrators need to do more preparatory research on how large the demand will be before the Tribe allocates funds for a building’s construction.
George said, for example, a decision needs to be made if a daycare center will be only for Tribal member families or will it also be available for Tribal employees as well.
The adopted final 2022 draft budget is traditionally sent to the general membership in the February Tilixam Wawa.
In other action, Tribal Council:
- Authorized a professional services agreement with GBD Architects to create a master plan for the Blue Heron site in Oregon City and work with Oregon City to amend its 2014 master plan for the site. The contract is not to exceed $590,380;
- Approved a three-year agreement with the West Valley Fire District for the Tribe to provide expanded fire and emergency medical services in the area and take full ownership of the ambulance;
- Approved emergency adoption of the Fuel Tax Ordinance so that it will be effective on Jan. 1, 2022. The ordinance will allow the Tribe to impose its own fuel tax at the same rate as the state of Oregon – 36 cents per gallon -- and use the revenue for transportation purposes, such as road repairs. The emergency adoption of the ordinance, which makes it effective immediately, allows the Tribe to meet Oregon Department of Transportation deadlines. The Tribe sells gasoline at Grand Ronde Station on Salmon River Highway adjacent to Spirit Mountain Casino. General Manager Tim Jackson said the station sold 2.4 million gallons of gas between Dec. 14, 2020, and Dec. 14, 2021, which would have raised $864,000 in gas tax revenue for the Tribe;
- Approved the Social Services Department applying to the Oregon Health Authority for a $2.28 million Senate Bill 110 grant that would fund a 24-hour crisis triage-peer support center at the Tribe’s Salem opioid treatment center, Great Circle Recovery, and fund construction of two tiny home villages in Grand Ronde and Salem to serve Tribal members dealing with substance abuse and homelessness;
- And approved amendments to the Enrollment Ordinance that will allow the Tribe to use genetic testing of other family members if a parent cannot be located or refuses to provide a DNA sample. The proposed amendments received one set of comments from the Enrollment Committee, which was supportive of the changes.
Also included in the Dec. 15 Tribal Council packet was an approved authorization to proceed that will increase Medicare Part B premium payment reimbursements made to Tribal members to a maximum $175 monthly or a maximum $525 quarterly beginning in January 2022.
Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez also announced a drive-through event that will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 22, that will take the place of the annual Tribal Council Christmas Party, which was canceled for the second year in a row because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that sub sandwiches, candy and popcorn will be handed out to participants.
To watch the entire meeting, visit the Tribal government’s website at www.grandronde.org and click on the Government tab and then Videos.