PEMBROKE — Members of the Lumbee Tribal Council on Thursday killed plans of tribal administrators to immediately obtain a loan to purchase the N.C. Indian Cultural Center property near Maxton, claiming they were not kept up to date about where money is coming from to purchase the property.
Tribal Administrator Tony Hunt asked that money generated from tribal housing tax credits be allocated to fund a loan of about $351,000. He requested Thursday that the council immediately allocate $13,000 toward closing costs that the tribe already has on hand generated from the tax credits. The loan would be for a 20-year period with payments being made from about $2,200 a month that the tribe generates from tax credits on tribe-owned homes.
April 2 has been set for the closing, Hunt said. If the tribe does not purchase the land by the closing date the state will open up the sale of the land to anyone who wants to buy it, according to Hunt.
The council voted 10 to 8 to hold a special meeting on Thursday to discuss how to move forward and purchase the property that once served as a prominent recreation area and educational center for tribal members.
During Thursday’s meeting, the council voted 12-6 against repealing several ordinances passed late last year. Supporters of repealing the ordinances claimed they were passed illegally because they were passed after a Lumbee Supreme Court order was issued banning former Speaker Pearlean Revels from serving as a tribal official or participating in tribal activities. Revels had participated in the discussion and vote on the ordinances proposed for repeal.
But Councilman McDuffie Cummings argued that some of the ordinances were passed before the court order was issued in October. He said that it would not benefit tribal members to repeal ordinances that included such things as giving elders priority to receiving tribal services, especially housing.
Cummings also said that the council should let the Supreme Court decide if it went too far in its order banning Revels from participating in tribal affairs for the next five years. The court, he said, is scheduled to meet next week to discuss the issue.
In other business, the council ordered that bids again be taken for an auditor to review the tribe’s finances. Only one firm, Lewis and Lewis, submitted a proposal.
On Jan. 10, the audit was ordered by the Supreme Court. The order was issued after the court determined that Chairman Paul Brooks had disobeyed previous court orders to release financial records to members of the council. During its review, the court looked at other allegations of misconduct by the chairman.
Chief Justice Gary Locklear mandated that an auditor be hired within 30 days, but later amended the order to allow more time for the bidding process. Both the administration and council recommended two auditors for the job. Lewis and Lewis was recommended by the administration.
Hunt told the council Thursday that only Lewis and Lewis submitted a proposal. Although the bid was opened and announced at a previous public meeting, Hunt declined to say Thursday the amount of the bid.
Council members went into a closed session to discuss the bid. After the session, Councilman Bobby Oxendine asked the council to again open the bidding process.
The council on Thursday appointed of Francine Chavis to the Supreme Court. Chavis previously served as the chief judge for the tribe’s Administrative Court.