7/8/2014 10:06:00 AM 16 new infrastructure support centers planned across Navajo Reservation
WINDOW ROCK - Chapters on the Navajo Nation will get more access to planning services, technical assistance, and guidance relating to project planning, infrastructure development and community land use planning when 16 new Administrative Service Centers get up and running across the Navajo Nation.
The Resources and Development Committee (RDC) approved legislation June 26 amending the plan of operation for the Navajo Nation Division of Community Development (DCD) to allow for the 16 new centers. The centers will replace the five Local Governance Support Centers (LGSC) as part of the ongoing decentralization initiative.
Legislation sponsor Council Delegate Jonathan Nez (Shonto, Navajo Mountain, Oljato, Ts'ah Bii Kin) expressed his support of the continuing efforts dedicated to the decentralization initiative.
"The overall initiative is to bring more jobs to the local chapters and bringing knowledgeable professionals to help build our Nation and to decentralize some of the authority here in Window Rock to these 16 centers so that service deliveries to our constituents will be efficient," Nez said.
In 2013, the Budget and Finance Committee directed the DCD to carry out the decentralization initiative. In August 2013, the Navajo Nation Council approved $3 million for the decentralization effort.
The DCD conducted a series of public hearings regarding the initiative at various chapter houses and received overwhelming support for the initiative, according Nez.
DCD executive director Leonard Chee said in January that the initiative will place emphasis on developing staff positions to operate the new centers.
"The LGSCs will be phased out, so this is a decentralization transition. The new positions will be created and current positions will transfer. However, some positions require [college] degrees and a certain amount of experience," Chee said.
The new centers will include a director to develop and implement policies and procedures for effective management. A senior planner, administrative assistant and accountant will staff each center. Plans are underway to hire attorneys for the centers as well.
According to the legislation, the existing LGSCs will continue to operate during the transition period.
"My wish is to transfer LGSC staff into 16 administrative centers and to continue their tenure and benefits. We are also hoping to recruit some highly-educated people and we hope to build upon bringing in some young and educated people. Overall, it is to provide better services and to have an efficient government," Nez said.
RDC chair Council Delegate Katherine Benally (Chilchinbeto, Dennehotso, Kayenta) expressed support for the legislation and urged her committee colleagues to do so also.
"It is time to implement this legislation and make the necessary changes. I believe that this is part of the vote, the vote of the people when they reduced the Council to regionalize," Benally said.
RDC members voted 3-0 to approve Legislation No. 0139-14.