Spring is finally here! Everyone looks forward to warmer days, time outdoors, gardening and exercising. I hope you continue to do these things but with caution and awareness. During this extraordinary time, abiding by guidelines such as social distancing, limited gatherings and continuous hand washing is most important for our community’s health and well-being. As we, New York and surrounding states contemplate opening up, more testing is anticipated including the antibody testing for prior exposure. Stay aware, stay safe and stay healthy.
With this pandemic, many things have changed for the Nation, including our economic outlook. As you may be aware, without our businesses meeting revenue projections, it is essential to make adjustments to our Departmental budgets. A budget sweep will happen in May reducing budgets by a various amounts to best plan for the remainder of the fiscal year. As always, essential services will continue as needed.
Another main consideration during this time is the direct member benefits such as annuity payments. Our casino and gaming enterprises remain closed thus the Nation is unable to receive head lease payments which fund all these benefits. Council and the Executives are continuing to develop a plan for required reductions and will be decided at the May Council session. I will release a public service announcement to help explain the decision made and the funding options moving forward.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act through the CARES Act provides payments to government entities such as the Nation, navigating the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Exact payments to Native governments have yet to be determined. Once we receive this award, the Nation will designate the funding to cover essential programs.
On a more positive note, the Nation has a large scale asphalt milling project using the remnants from the I-90 project. Cattaraugus residents can call the Treasurer’s office to request millings and give brief location information. Please be patient with the project as we are limited with equipment and staff. Everyone will eventually receive what they need.
Again, enjoy your time with family, get out and enjoy the weather and stay well.