Council, Brooks reach truce on finance records

First Posted: 8/16/2013

PEMBROKE — Leaders of the Lumbee Tribal Council on Thursday praised an agreement the council reached earlier this week with tribal administrators that requires the tribal administration to provide financial records that council members contend are necessary for them to perform their responsibility of budget oversight.

The agreement, hashed out during a Lumbee Supreme Court hearing on Monday, resulted in Speaker Pearlean Revels and Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks signing a memorandum of understanding that calls for the tribe’s executive branch to provide all 21 council members the general ledger and check registers from all tribal bank accounts by 1 p.m. on Aug. 30. Only the “transaction descriptions” listed in the ledger and registers do not have to be provided.

According to the memorandum, council members are also to be provided reports of financial transactions on a quarterly basis. The registries providing this information should be provided within 30 days of the end of each quarter, the memorandum states.

Both Revels and McDuffie Cummings, chairman of the council’s Finance Committee, said after Thursday’s regular monthly council meeting that they are hopeful that the lengthy dispute between the chairman and council over financial records is over. Neither Brooks nor Tribal Administrator Tony Hunt were at Thursday’s meeting to comment.

“Now we can move forward,” Revels said.

Cummings referred to the ruling as “one for the people.”

“This is a move toward more transparency and (council) oversight,” he said. “This is a win for tribal members.”

According to Cummings, the records council will now receive will help speed up and make more efficient the budget process now under way for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

It was not until July 19, after two votes to override the chairman’s veto of the current year’s budget, that the council was able to enact its current $24.9 million budget. The tribe had been operating under a continuing budget resolution, meaning that the spending plan this fiscal year has been the same as the previous fiscal year.

During Thursday’s meeting, council members voted to cancel the continuing resolution.

In other business, the council on Thursday:

— Received a check for $2,000 from AT&T in support of the tribe’s back-to-school supplies program. The presentation was made by John Lyon, At&T’s regional director of external affairs. This is the fourth year that AT&T has contributed to the tribe’s annual back to school drive, coordinated by the tribe’s Volunteer Services program. The program provides backpacks and other basic school supplies to Lumbee students in need.

Volunteer Coordinator April Bryant said that the tribe attempts each year to assist about 300 students.

“But there is really a big need this year, so we are trying to help 400 students,” she said.

— Heard a request from Councilman Terry Hunt that the council throw its support behind a proposed “Adopt-a-Family Graveyard” project. Under this program, church groups, civic organizations and others would identify local family graveyards and clean them up.

“Graveyards are part of our history and heritage ” Hunt said.

At the recommendation of Councilwoman Louise Mitchell, the proposal was forwarded to the council’s Education, Culture and PR Committee for study.

— Discussed the need to set regulations and policies for the use of tribal community centers and Boys & Girls Clubs.