By Joe Morey
The LCO Tribe is expected to receive in excess of $30 million, possibly more than $40 million, from the American Rescue Plan Act passed in March by the federal government. The exact amount isn’t yet known, but the Tribe received $1.7 million already and the rest should be awarded in just days.
Members of the LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) who are candidates for re-election put out a campaign statement on what they believe are top priorities at this time, which include, an immediate stimulus payment to every Tribal Member living anywhere in the United States, which will surpass the previous $1,000 payment.
The candidates include LCO Chairman Louis Taylor, TGB members Tweed Shuman and Don Carley.
“This is one of our first priorities, something we’ll do immediately,” the group stated. “We know we’re getting a significantly larger cash infusion this time around so we’ll be able to provide a larger payment than the previous one”
Another top priority is the Signor water problem the community has endured for many years. The group said a plan is being put together for a pump house and distribution system in Signor at a cost of just over a million dollars.
“This is long overdue,” the TGB members stated.
In a separate story this week, the water has been labeled as non-hazardous and the candidates said due to the water being labeled non-hazardous, IHS is unlikely to fund the project, but TGB is ready to fund it and has placed it at the top of the priority list.
“Our intention is to use the ARP funds to address this and other important issues we face,” The letter noted. “We need to set priorities as a Tribal Governing Board that we want to move forward with immediately.”
Chairman Taylor mentioned projects such as a new treatment center and an elder care facility.
The letter states there is also a plan to completely renovate the Grindstone Creek casino. There are funds available as part of the ARP to address lost revenues and, Shuman noted, the smaller casino has been shut down for an entire year.
Don Carley told LCO News he’d like to see some polling of the Tribal Membership on what projects are priorities to them.
“We need to hear from everyone on what they want to see done, but, our first priority will be to get an infusion of cash into the households,” Carley stated.
In the Indian Country Set Aside of the ARP designated by the United States Department of the Treasury, there are four broad uses of the funds that are listed. They include;
Respond to the public health emergency with respect to COVID- 19 or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality;
To respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers of the Tribal government that are performing such essential work, or by providing grants to eligible employers that have eligible workers who perform essential work;
For the provision of government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue of such Tribal government due to such emergency;
To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.
Tweed Shuman explained the first broad use clearly allows a stimulus payment directly to Tribal Members. He added the second broad use allows for bonus pay to employees, which the TGB could either use to reimburse Enbridge and LCO Financial Services accounts for the previous payout, or issue another one.
As part of the ARP, there is a fund of $10 billion allocated to Indian Country for Tribes to request funds for homeowner assistance to aid homeowners with mortgage and utility payments and repairs and other costs associated with homeownership.
“We need to put a person in charge who will go around and visit with everyone to see the needs of our members so we don’t miss anyone. We need to do an assessment of what everyone needs,” Shuman noted. “Then we have our Grants Department write up the requests to access these funds.”
The letter from the USDT stated the Tribes have until September 30 of this year to put in their Notice of Funds Request.
“We need to start right now,” the candidates stated.
TGB member Glenda Barber said she believes the Tribe needs to address the housing shortage at LCO. She said she would like to see the Tribe build apartment buildings.
In the ARP letter from the USDT, it said Tribes will have till the end of 2024 to spend the allocations.
An early payment of $1.7 million was already received by the Tribe as part of the ARP for the Tribe to use as it sees fit. This early payment was from an equal distribution of $1 billion to all 554 federally recognized Tribes.