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6/10/2014 11:02:00 AM
Navajo lawmakers approve $295 mil five-year capital improvement plan
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signs the Five-Year Plan into law.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signs the Five-Year Plan into law.
Navajo-Hopi Observer


WINDOW ROCK- After 14 years of work, on May 5, President Ben Shelly signed the Navajo Nation Five-Year Plan into law, which prioritizes Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) on the Navajo Nation.

The plan includes infrastructure projects, such as bathroom additions, house wiring, power lines, waterlines, buildings, wastewater treatment plants, parking lots, roads, sewer lines and heavy equipment.

During the spring session the 22nd Navajo Nation Council approved Legislation No. 0118-13 and recommended Shelly approve the Navajo Nation five-year capital improvement projects plan.

The multi-year plan is for capital expenditures, including a detailed one-year capital improvement budget. The priority list includes anticipated project costs, source of capital funds to complete projects, completion dates, and priority rankings.

The mood was celebratory as Shelly penned his name to the legislation.

The five-year plan from 2013 to 2017 totals $295,669,676.35 for projects from the 110 chapters.

The Division of Community Development, along with the Capital Improvement Office, put on a barbecue luncheon at the Window Rock Veterans Park to kickoff the signing.

Shelly and members of the Navajo Nation Council talked about the achievement during the luncheon before sharing the news with the Navajo people during a live remote broadcast with KTNN AM 660 at the Office of the President and Vice President.

Katherine Benally (Chilchinbeto, Dennehotso, Kayenta) said the CIP plan from the 110 chapters was a major legislation that involved a lot of effort from tribal leaders and provided a blueprint for infrastructure development moving forward.

"Thank you to the Resources and Development Committee. We stood strong and worked on this. By a vote of 19-1, it passed Council. Thank you, delegates," Benally said.

LoRenzo Bates (Nenahezad, Newcomb, San Juan, T'iistoh Sikaad, Tse' Daa' Kaan, Upper Fruitland) said passage of the plan was a new beginning for the Navajo Nation.

"We're moving forward in improvements that are needed at the chapter level, as well as at the central government level," Bates said. "This has been in the making for nearly 14 years."

He added that the 2014-2015 budget is the first not to include a waiver of the Appropriations Act because of the unavailability of a five-year plan.

"The next big step is to fund these projects," he added.

Jonathan Nez (Navajo Mountain, Oljato, Shonto, Tsah Bii Kin) thanked Shelly and the Council for moving the initiative forward.

"I want to say to the Navajo people that this is your voice and a lot of the chapter officials deserve great kudos," Nez said. "I want to thank each and every one of them for bringing their project listings to the Council."

He added that there is still time for chapters to submit proposals.

"At the end of the day, as President Shelly always states, 'It's about job creation.' I believe there will be a lot of job creation as a lot of these projects go into construction," Nez said.

Jonathan Hale (Oak Springs, St. Michaels) said he was thankful for the careful deliberation from tribal leaders in approving the CIP plan.

"There are many challenges facing our people. We need roads for our school kids," Hale said. "We are thankful for this legislation moving forward."

George Apachito (Alamo, Ramah, Tohajiilee) agreed with his colleagues and said it was time to address the many needs out at the chapters, such as new buildings for Navajo Head Start students.

He gave thanks for the vision and leadership of the Resources and Development Committee, Health and Human Services Committee, and Speaker Pro Tem Bates.

"To our Navajo people, these are your funds. We will be moving forward on your behalf. Ahe'hee," Apachito said.

Shelly was the final speaker for the KTNN live remote broadcast.

"This effort has been ongoing since 1998, during the days of the 88-member Navajo Nation Council, under the guidance of the former Transportation and Community Development Committee," Shelly said.

He said the capital improvement plan came directly from the Navajo chapters for infrastructure development.

The chapters conducted assessments for their community needs, he said, and noted that task forces were formed to conduct real property inventory and identification of chapter boundaries.

"We have nearly $2 billion in the Permanent Trust Fund and the interest from that is $295 million, enough to fund these projects," Shelly said. "A lot of hard work went into working on this project listing for almost 14 years. We must combine our savings and leverage them against other funding sources to get this work done."

Shelly said thanks and gratitude must be given to the past leaders that had a hand in developing the CIP plan, including Peterson Zah, Edward T. Begay, Albert Hale and Kelsey Begay.

"People say there's bad things happening in Window Rock. That's not what I see. I see planning and tribal leaders working together to move this Nation forward. As leaders, we make decisions for the benefit of all. There's three branches working together. Now's the time to get working on behalf of your communities. Together, we're making change work."


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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014
Article comment by: Pauline Sanchez

I wonder if Pres Shelley added the People's money for the proposed Grand Canyon Escalade project which will keep the Bennett Freeze area of the western Navajo Nation land in poverty with no water, no homes, temporary jobs as best. Pres.Shelley, don't sign the Master Agreement! Once you do, the Navajo Nation will face litigation that might destructive harm.

Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Article comment by: What Ever

$295,669,676.35 for the 110 chapter officials to embezzle....... great job!!



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