By Joe Morey, News Editor
The LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) met Tuesday, Jan. 8, to discuss the status of current funding levels for Federal grants, access to funds, and long-range effects of an extended shutdown.
According to a memo issued to tribal employees, “This was the initial step in creating an action plan that will provide direction should the need arise.”
The TGB stated in the memo that for the next week it will be “business as usual.”
Following the meeting, LCO Chairman Louis Taylor said most tribal programs are grant-funded and those funds have already been provided or drawn down when those grants were authorized, such as the LCO Ojibwe School and LCO Headstart and Early Headstart. He said the LCO Housing Authority and LCO Vocational Rehabilitation also won’t be affected.
Taylor said the LCO Health Center has several weeks of funds available. He said they will make sure all bills will continue to be paid for tribal members.
“Third party billing will continue to provide funds for the clinic to operate,” Taylor said. “The clinic also has an investment account with savings that can be accessed to provide necessary funds.”
LCO Secretary-Treasurer Jason Weaver said the tribe will keep all essential services operating.
“The programs tribal members are dependent on will continue,” Weaver said. “If the tribe needs to cover costs to keep them open, we’ll find a way.”
Weaver said the tribe would be able to fund certain things and they would eventually be reimbursed.
“We’re used to doing some of it anyways like with Food Distribution,” Weaver continued. “It is grant funded, but we pay for operations and then wait to get paid, which is usually the following month, but with the government shutdown, it may take more time to get reimbursed.”
Weaver went on to explain if it is a long shutdown, then we may look at voluntary layoffs.
“As a result of yesterday’s discussion, the determination was made to continue “business as usual” for the next week, with a few restrictions,” the tribal memo stated. “We are still able to draw funds from some Federal agencies, which will support operations for the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, we will continue to develop scenarios to deal with an extended shutdown.”
The memo stated measures to control expenses were discussed, and the following will be implemented immediately.
1. Essential travel only; that which is mandated by grant agreements or contracts.
2. Technology; purchases of cell phones, laptops, desktops, printers, etc. for program and administrative staff, will be restricted to critical needs only.
3. Annual pay increases will be delayed until the government resumes operations. Please continue to perform annual reviews and submit the requests for increases. If approved they will be made retroactive as of the date approved.
4. No new contracts without TGB/CFO approval.
5. New hires will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
“Thank you for your cooperation during this critical period. We appreciate any cost saving measures you take to reduce current expenses,” the memo stated. “If you have questions, concerns, or ideas on how to continue operations into the future in the case of an extended shutdown, we welcome your input.”
The memo concluded by stating the tribe will continue to update as additional information is received.