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Tribe's Financials Among Several Topics Reported at General Membership Meeting

By Joe Morey

News Editor

A General Membership Meeting for LCO tribal members was held on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, at the Sevenwinds Casino Event Center where many topics were covered, including presentations by Namekagon Transit and the U.S. Census Bureau, both covered in separate articles.

Other topics included the tribal budget, the tribe’s bank accounts, an LCO Financial Services update and updates from tribal council members.

LCO Secretary-Treasurer Michelle Beaudin reported once she receives the revenues for 2019 the 2020 budget would be proposed. Currently, Beaudin said they are working from the 2018 budget.

Under those numbers, current revenues include 3.5 million from the casino, 2.4 million from LCO FS, 3.8 million from Enbridge and over 1.2 million from the tribal enterprises which includes a half million from the C-Store and over $700,000 from LCO Development. Other minor revenues include firewood sales, the gaming compact, court fees and fines, water and sewer income and license plates.

At the following council meeting Tweed Shuman made a motion for a continuing resolution that they operate under the 2018 budget. This was passed unanimously.

Shuman reported to the membership that there are two accounts at Johnson Bank, the health center operating account with 1.5 million and the LCO FQHC funds from the clinic at 3.2 million. The current bank account totals at People’s Bank amounts to $7.6 million. He said about 2.5 million of those funds is liquid and available if needed. The tribe’s General Fund, which is used for basic daily operating, payroll, 401, etc, has a balance of 1.2 million at Chippewa Valley Bank.

A tribal member asked what the procedures are for moving money around or making withdraws. Beaudin said a full council vote would be required and then it takes two signatures to transfer or withdraw any funds.

LCO Financial Services

As LCO FS board president, Tweed Shuman gave a report on the enterprise. He said there is currently 37 employees up from 17 in 2018. He said the operation is in their new facility which cost $1,411,000 to remodel (the old Boys and Girls Club).

Over the past few years there has been a great increase of revenue to the tribe. In 2014, there was no funds appropriated to the tribe. In 2015 it was $126,000 and rose to $504,000 per year for 2016, 2017 and 2018. For 2019, that amount rose to $2.4 million.

“It was $42,000 per month for three years and now it’s $200,000 per month,” stated LCO Chairman Louis Taylor. “This is going to continue to grow. LCO FS is going to be a major revenue stream for the tribe.”

LCO Vice-Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge said the TGB encourages our people to apply for employment. She said there is opportunity there.

“We are strong for tribal members first. We’ll guide them, train them, teach them, educate them,” Gouge said. “We’ll help as many as we can.

ICW changes

TGB member Glenda Barber said that even though the new tribal council members ran on a platform of ‘tribal members first,’ we are not out to get you if you are not a tribal member.

“If you are doing a great job for our tribe, we assure you we are not against you. Every one of us believes we need to hire our people.”

Barber’s statement follows the resignation of three personnel in the Indian Child Welfare office who weren’t tribal members. This included the director and assistant director. Barber said Luann Kolumbus (former director) and Tibissum Rice have been brought in to stabilize the ICW department until the positions can be filled. Barber added they are going to hire more positions in the department to help relieve the pressure on a short-staff.

Regarding housing on the reservation, Barber said it’s a shame how many homes are empty and left to mold and suffer break-ins and other issues.

“We are looking at ways to get them fixed,” Barber said. “I’d like to look at a housing committee.”

College Changes

LCO Vice-Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge gave a report which she explained some future changes upcoming for the LCO Ojibwe Community College. Gouge said the college is expanding in the near future to a 4-year program and would be dropping the ‘community’ from their name.

“Our campus is growing and we’re planning for that growth,” Gouge said. “We’re looking at dorms and child care on campus. We want to provide education opportunities for all of our members. Now we need input from our members. What do you want to see going forward?”

Beaudin added that they are looking at partnerships for a day care. She said there are multiple areas that need day care, such as the casino.

“What’s the best fit, one or more day cares,” Beaudin said.

Chairman Taylor added that a day care on the reservation is one of the current top three priorities for the tribal governing board.

TGB member Gary "Little Guy" Clause gives an update on hemp production plans.

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