By Secretary-Treasurer Carolyn Beaulieu
Good morning and welcome. It is great to see everyone. As it has been at the last three State of the Band Addresses, I am again, honored and humbled to stand before you as the Secretary-Treasurer for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. As the leader of the Legislative Branch, I also serve as the Speaker of the Band Assembly, so part of my responsibility is to now call the 1st Session of the 18th Assembly to order.
The Band Assembly not only enacts revised and new laws, we also review and approve hundreds of other business items annually. Including but not limited to: Appropriation bills for all government budgets including Corporate Ventures non-gaming and casino operations, contracts, resolutions for land leases, foster care licenses, and grant applications. We oversee and analyze all Band investments. For the sake of a timely report, I’m going to highlight a few areas in which we are most proud.
We finalized revisions to the Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance and sent to the Chief Executive for her concurrence. It became law, and the new TERO Commissioners were ratified by the elected officials. Those Commission members are Virgil Wind, Valerie Harrington, Mitch Matrious, Bonnie Dorr, Bob Eagle, Cheryl Miller, and Scott Tossey.
The new TERO Commission replaces the Administrative Policy Board as the TERO enforcement entity. The commission will work with the TERO Director, Craig Hansen, to develop the policies and procedures for the TERO program, which is aimed at creating an environment that provides a content work place for all employees and a productive workforce for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
Band Assembly continues to support the Four Winds Treatment Facility in Brainerd. It was last reported that they were almost at full capacity with 16 clients. As we know, no one is immune from the effects of the drug epidemic that has at- tacked and crippled our community. The Band Assembly will continue to do what we can to support the Executive and Judicial Branches of Government as well as other Community efforts that work to address the problem. Band Assembly has a special appreciation, and a heartfelt thank you goes out to those individuals and groups publicly opposing the epidemic, such as: Sober Squad, Smudge Walkers, and Natives Against Heroin. CHI MII GWECH to YOU ALL. And for those struggling with addiction, we will continue to pray for you.
If any of you have driven by the Sher property here in District I, just a few miles north on County Road 25, also known as Timber Trails Road, you can see the District I clinic taking shape. This is exciting because those of you who work in the current clinic and health services area know that expansion is needed in order to provide cohesive clinical services to our growing population. Coming along soon will be the new District I Community Center that will include a swimming pool, additional meeting spaces, and areas for expanded recreational activities.
Band Assembly appropriated the funds for the purchase of a dialysis facility in DII, Isle. We are closing on the purchase this week. The new facility will be a convenient option for those individuals needing dialysis treatments. Keep watch for more information from HHS.
The finishing touches are being completed at the new Hinckley Community Center in District III and although I haven’t had a tour yet, I hear it is a spectacular facility with new meeting spaces and areas for increased recreational activities.
Government budgets for fiscal ’18 – ’19 have been approved by both Band Assembly and the Chief Executive. We were short money for projected needs based on the forecast of net revenue earnings from the casinos. After thorough evaluation of proposed budgets, consideration of declining and flat gaming revenues, increase in Band membership, and higher demand for Band programs, the elected leadership agreed to authorize a small appropriation of the earnings from our fiscal year ’17 Long Term Savings to supplement the projected short- falls. We have no plans to touch the principal balance in our long-term savings. Our long-term savings investments are doing well.
The success of the Band’s Long Term Savings is not because of one person alone. The Band’s elected officials appointed Adam Valdez as the Commissioner of Finance to oversee the Band’s investment portfolio. Adam’s expertise in finance, investments, and the stock market has had a significant impact on our investments in a good way.
In relation to budgets, last spring, I held Revenue Allocation Plan (RAP) meetings in all districts and the urban area. I, with the help of the Commissioner of Finance, presented information on the Band’s current Revenue Allocation Plan, and we talked about the challenges in meeting budget needs based on the percentage allocations of the Plan. I took comments and answered questions from the audience. We then had sub- sequent discussions with Band Assembly, the Chief Executive, and Band Commissioners on the various factors that require changes to the RAP. We are finalizing proposed revisions to the Revenue Allocation Plan, revisions that are based on the needs that I earlier mentioned. Once this proposal is finalized and approved by Band elected leadership, it will be shared with community members, and it will go to the Department of Interior for approval.
In 2017, the Office of Management and Budget undertook the major task of converting our existing accounting software system, Fundware, to the AX Microsoft Accounting Software system. The conversion was long overdue. The Band had been using Fundware for over 17 years, and the system had become cumbersome, hard to manage, antiquated, and was very deficient from a technological standpoint. The company that owns Fundware advised the Band that they would cease supporting the software after December 31, 2017. AX is an improvement from Fundware in regards to technology, system functionality, and the platform the system utilizes. It has the look and feel of Microsoft Office and works very well with Microsoft Office products.
The conversion took over 15 months to initiate and complete because of the enormity of the processes and transactions that OMB handles on a routine basis. There were a few glitches, as could be expected in any major software conversion. There are still a few remaining items to iron out with the system and certain processes including further training, but overall, the Band has gained a system that will be extremely beneficial to the Band and Band members. OMB staffers are working very hard to gain full knowledge of the new system, and they plan to roll out their knowledge and access to the system across the Band government in the near future.
I am now going to share OMB processing statistical information.
The OMB Department is comprised of 16 employees managed by the Commissioner of Finance.
They manage 22 areas of service (funds) comprised of over 259 distinct budgets.
There are 75 active grants of which 38 are federally funded, 35 are state funded, and two are privately funded.
The total amount of grant funds is $30,961,455.
External reporting to funding agencies consists of 17 monthly fiscal grant reports, 43 quarterly fiscal grant reports, and 17 year-end annually fiscal grant reports.
Accounts payable checks processed in the last three months average 5,548 checks and EFTs per month.
Payroll averages 3,429 checks per month with 85 percent being done as direct deposits.
Per capita averages 3,200 per month — with 45 percent being done as direct deposits.
Minor Trusts has about 115 transactions per month — this includes payouts and hardships.
So that gives an idea as to why the software upgrade is crucial to the OMB office: the tremendous amount of transactions they process and keep records of. We appreciate every- one’s patience and understanding as we work to accomplish this upgrade.
This past year, we had the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe motor vehicle license plate redesign contest, and Band Assembly examined the submissions, voted, and selected the plate designed by talented young lady and Band member Simone Boyd-Evans. Regular plates are available, but I was informed there is a slight delay for the Veterans’ plates. Congratulations, Simone! Awesome job!
Since 2015, the Legislative Office has hosted three annual legislative women’s gatherings. Success and appreciation of the gatherings led to us starting condensed monthly women’s gatherings where we have Kim Sam, with her Mothers of Traditions concept, come in and talk to our ladies about wellbriety and life. We also play Ojibwe Bingo facilitated by Mikayla Schaaf to keep us sharp on some of the language, and of course we have a delicious meal. Spending time with fellow women in the community talking about issues in our lives and suggestions on how to cope with those issues has been extremely beneficial to me as a woman and elected official for the Band. Mii Gwech to these ladies for making our gatherings fun and fulfilling. We will continue to have monthly gatherings based on interest.
Lastly, don’t forget to pick up your Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe flag, courtesy of the Band Assembly. Display it proudly at home, work, car, or wherever you see it fitting nicely. It’s a great way to show how proud you are of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
That completes my report. Please enjoy the rest of the presentation, and now I’ll turn it back over to Joe to move on to the next agenda item.
PHOTO STEVE KOHLS/BRAINERD DISPATCH
Secretary-Treasurer Carolyn Beaulieu called to order the 18th Session of the Mille Lacs Band Assembly.