TGB Approves 2023 Budget with Secretary-Treasurer Concerned Over Donation Budget Cap
By Joe Morey
LCO Secretary-Treasurer Tweed Shuman presented a budget for 2023 at the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) meeting on March 27, which was approved 5-1-0, with Shuman himself opposing after the donation account was increased from $1.5 million to $2 million.
Shuman noted the donation account is already up to $900,000 this year, and there is still $200,000 owed to Quick Stop for gas vouchers from last year bringing the YTD expense to $1.1M with 2/3 of the year left. He said at the current rate, donations will exceed the annual budget of $2 million by July 2023.
TGB member Michelle Beaudin said there are tribal people who need the help, to which Shuman responded, “Yes, but being fiscally irresponsible is doing a disservice to our Membership as a whole.”
Beaudin said with the increased revenue from LCO Financial Services, which will become $750,000 monthly and is projected to be $1 million per month next year, the Tribe can afford to take care of its people in need.
Shuman told the LCO News the TGB needs to make decisions that are fair for the individual tribal member, but also right for our Membership. The current spending habits through donations are not sustainable, he added.
Shuman also said he recognizes and is proud of the success the Financial Services team is doing under the leadership of Scott Soli and this revenue is bringing much needed relief to the tribal budget.
“However, the increased revenue should be used for initiatives to support the Membership as a whole. The projected increase will come into effect as we put together the 2024 budget but the idea that we will spend money before we have it is fiscally irresponsible.”
TGB member Glenda Barber said the Tribe needs to get Supportive Housing done, which is a plan for multi-family units for people with addiction and homelessness issues. A separate story will share this plan in the LCO News.
“This will help with our homelessness issue by getting these people out of the hotels,” Barber said.
TGB member Don Carley said there are a lot of other things the TGB has done for the people with the donation accounts other than gas vouchers.
Shuman said last year there was $1.5 million allocated to donations and they went over that amount.
Carley said when the FS funds increase, “To take the extra $5.1 million and put away in a rainy day fund that we don’t touch.” The total annual revenue from FS will be $8.1 million for 2023, up from $3 million.
TGB member Gary “Little Guy” Clause suggested investing the surplus, “And having our money make money.”
Carley said he supports increasing the budget allocation for donations to $2 million, “But we hold our feet to the fire, and we don’t go over that.”
Shuman noted that grant drawdowns need to be done in a timely manner because they are using the Tribe’s general fund to cover those expenses.
Prior to the budget vote, Beaudin proposed raising the funeral expense for tribal members to $9,000 and the family payout to $500. She noted this would raise the budget $160,000 per year, but that it’s covered under the surplus. The proposal was added unanimously by the TGB members.
In his financial report (coming in a later issue), Shuman provided LCO News some of the figures of the donation account.
He reported that TGB’s open invoices at the LCO Quick Stop for gas vouchers stands at $261,556.98. These charges are for June-Oct'22, Dec'22-Mar'23, and a few charges prior to Jun'22.
Shuman said the TGB also has open invoices at Sevenwinds Casino for hotel vouchers thru mid-April 2023 of $205,000.00
Shuman also reported Amerivu Hotel is currently invoicing the Tribe for 26 rooms at $ 490/ week = $12,740.00 every week for $50,960.00 every month.
“These donation expenses including the Tribal Credit card use for Donations, Hardship requests / payments, and other Hotel stays throughout the country, have exceeded the $1 million dollar mark six months into this fiscal year,” Shuman’s report notes. “This does not include the outstanding balances from Quick Stop, Sevenwinds Casino, and LCO Development! At the current rate of these expenditures, we will exceed the 2023 budgeted amount for donations, which may impact other programs and services along with eliminating our anticipated surplus.”