Navajo President President Shelly Signs $295 Million Capital Improvement Project Plan into Law

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signs the Navajo Nation Five-Year Plan into law as Leonard Chee, George Apachito, LoRenzo Bates, Katherine Benally and Jonathan Nez look on. (Photo by Rick Abasta)

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signs the Navajo Nation Five-Year Plan into law as Leonard Chee, George Apachito, LoRenzo Bates, Katherine Benally and Jonathan Nez look on. (Photo by Rick Abasta)

This Capital Improvement Project Five-Year plan took almost 14 years to complete.

WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA — Navajo President Ben Shelly signed the Navajo Nation Capital Improvement Project Five-Year Plan on Monday, May 5, 2014 that totals $295,669,676 for projects from the 110 chapters on the Navajo Nation.

This Capital Improvement Project Five-Year plan took almost 14 years to complete.

During the spring session last month, the 22nd Navajo Nation Council approved plan’s legislation (Legislation No. 0118-13) and forwarded it to President Shelly’s signature.

The multi-year plan is for capital expenditures, including a detailed one-year capital improvement budget. The priority list includes anticipated project costs, source of capital funds to complete projects, completion dates, and priority rankings.

The Capital Improvement Project plan includes various infrastructure projects, such as bathroom additions, house wiring, power lines, waterlines, buildings, wastewater treatment plants, parking lots, roads, sewer lines, and heavy equipment.

Cause for Celebration

The mood was celebratory as President Shelly penned his name to the legislation.

The Division of Community Development, along with the Capital Improvement Office, hosted a barbecue luncheon at the Window Rock Veterans Park to kickoff the festivities.

President Shelly and members of the Navajo Nation Council provided remarks about the achievement during the luncheon, before sharing the news with the Navajo people during a live remote broadcast with KTNN AM 660 at the Office of the President and Vice President.

Navajo Nation Council

Katherine Benally (Chilchinbeto, Dennehotso, Kayenta) said the Capital Improvement Project plan from the 110 chapters was a major legislation that involved a lot of effort from tribal leaders and provided a blueprint for infrastructure development moving forward.

She mentioned that perhaps the interest from the Permanent Trust Fund could be utilized to fund the projects for the 110 chapters.

“Thank you to the Resources and Development Committee. We stood strong and worked on this. By a vote of 19-1, it passed Council. Thank you, delegates,” Benally said.

LoRenzo Bates (Nenahezad, Newcomb, San Juan, T’iistoh Sikaad, Tse’ Daa’ Kaan, Upper Fruitland) said passage of the CIP plan was a new beginning for the Navajo Nation.

“We’re moving forward in improvements that are needed at the chapter level, as well as at the central government level,” Bates said. “This has been in the making for nearly 14 years.”

He noted that the 2014-2015 budget for the Navajo Nation is the first time there will be no waiver of the Appropriations Act because of the unavailability of a five-year plan.

“The next big step is to fund these projects,” he added.

Jonathan Nez (Navajo Mountain, Oljato, Shonto, Tsah Bii Kin) gave appreciation to President Shelly and the 22nd Navajo Nation Council for moving the initiative forward.

“I want to say to the Navajo people that this is your voice and a lot of the chapter officials deserve great kudos,” Nez said. “I want to thank each and every one of them for bringing their project listings to the Council.

He added that there is still time for chapters to submit proposals.

“At the end of the day, as President Shelly always states, ‘It’s about job creation.’ I believe there will be a lot of job creation as a lot of these projects go into construction,” Nez said.

Jonathan Hale (Oak Springs, St. Michaels) said he was thankful for the careful deliberation from tribal leaders to approve the CIP plan.

“There are many challenges facing our people. We need roads for our school kids,” Hale said. “We are thankful for this legislation moving forward.”

George Apachito (Alamo, Ramah, Tohajiilee) agreed with his colleagues and said it was time to address the many needs out at the chapters, such as new buildings for the Navajo Head Start students.

He gave thanks to the vision and leadership of the Resources and Development Committee, Health and Human Services Committee, and Speaker Pro Tem Bates.

“To our Navajo people, these are your funds. We will be moving forward on your behalf. Ahe’hee,” Apachito said.

Working Together, Making Change Work

President Shelly was the final speaker for the KTNN live remote broadcast.

“This effort has been ongoing since 1998, during the days of the 88-member Navajo Nation Council, under the guidance of the former Transportation and Community Development Committee,” President Shelly said.

He said the CIP plan came directly from the Navajo chapters for infrastructure development.

They have conducted assessments for their community needs, he said, and noted that task forces were formed to conduct real property inventory and identification of chapter boundaries.

“We have nearly $2 billion in the Permanent Trust Fund and the interest from that is $295 million, enough to fund these projects,” President Shelly said. “A lot of hard work went into working on this project listing for almost 14 years

“We must combine our savings and leverage them against other funding sources to get this work done,” he added.

President Shelly said thanks and gratitude must be given to the past leaders that had a hand in developing the CIP plan, from Peterson Zah, Edward T. Begay, Albert Hale and Kelsey Begay.

“People say there’s bad things happening in Window Rock. That’s not what I see. I see planning and tribal leaders working together to move this Nation forward,” he said.

“As leaders, we make decisions for the benefit of all. There’s three braches working together. Now’s the time to get working on behalf of your communities,” President Shelly said. “Together, we’re making change work.”




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