PEMBROKE — The Lumbee Tribal Council finally has a budget for the current fiscal year — if it can survive the chairman’s veto pen.
Council members on Thursday approved a budget of $24,891,303, most of which is made up of funding the tribe receives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Since its fiscal year begins Oct. 1, the tribe has been operating under a continuing resolution, meaning that the tribe has been operating with a budget that is at the same funding level as the previous fiscal year.
The budget, which was approved in a 14 to 5 vote, is the same as was presented to the tribe’s general membership last month, according to Councilwoman Louise Mitchell, who was questioned by Councilman Terry Campbell about what he saw as changes in the proposal. Reporters were not able to review the budget to determine if changes had been made.
When the public had its chance last month to give its opinion on the council’s budget proposal, several tribal members opposed it for eliminating some departments, including Public Relations. Those advocating that the Public Relations Department not be eliminated stressed the importance of the department as an essential means of getting important tribal information out to tribal members, as well as distributing information to the media for a broader audience.
According to McDuffie Cummings, the chairman of the council’s Finance Committee, the budget will be available for tribal members to review for 30 days at the Lumbee Tribal Complex.
Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks now 30 days to veto the budget should he wish to do so. If he does, the 21-member council can then move to override the veto with a two-thirds vote.
In other business, the council heard a brief update from Lesaundri Hunt, the council’s Federal Recognition Committee chairman, concerning the status of federal recognition efforts.
Hunt said that Brooks and other representatives of the tribe earlier this month met with U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson and staff from the offices of U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre and Sen. Kay Hagan to develop a strategy for submitting and moving a Lumbee Recognition Bill through the current Congress. Hudson, a Republican whose district includes most of Robeson County, is taking the lead in shepherding the bill through the House. Previous bills have been introduced and successfully guided through the House by McIntyre, a Democrat from Lumberton who now represents the 7th Congressional District, a district which now includes just a sliver of Robeson County.
“The battles may get rough, but we can’t ever give up,” Hunt said.
The council adopted a resolution supporting the re-authorization of the “Elementary and Secondary Education Act.” This federal act, according to Councilman Bobby Oxendine, supports the re-authorization for the supply of educational services to “all American Indians residing in the United States.”