SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Executive Council of Central Council Tlingit
& Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Gives Report of Meeting


June 11, 2006

According to information provided by Jodi Wolf, CCTHITA Publications, all Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska's Executive Council members were present for a spirited and productive three-day meeting that was held on May 30 through June 1st at the Vocational Training & Resource Center (VTRC) in Juneau, Alaska.

The meeting opened with President Edward Thomas giving a historical overview of the Tribe and the Tribe's experiences in contracting for federal programs over the years; this was followed by an orientation to the Council on the role that a Board (Council) plays in an organization such as CCTHITA. The Council viewed an Effective Meetings video, and also took the time to list some "Meeting Conduct Standards" that outline how members should treat one another in meetings. The Council wishes to make sure that each member is free to speak their mind at any time, but to do so in an orderly and respectful manner.

jpg executive council

A portion of this meeting was set aside to hear about the programs Central Council manages and to get fully orientated on financial issues. The Council reviewed administrative issues and the challenges the Tribe is facing today and will face in the future.

Corrine Garza, Chief of Business Operations, and Dorothy Webster, Chief Finance Officer, walked through each budget of the tribe and then explained Fiscal Policies. This was the most interactive area between the Council and our Administrative Staff. They asked some excellent questions on budget development processes, budget monitoring, and budget modification policies. The Council expressed appreciation for explanations on how indirect cost recovery is used, and learned what types of expenditures are not reimbursable from the federal government.

The Council requested a multi-year historical report on Central Council's major administrative budgets and programs to better understand budget trends, which would help them make better decisions in the future. Management will produce this information and will make it available to the Council and to our management team on an internal web site that is managed out of our Finance Department.

The Council was given an update on Tlingit & Haida Technology Industries (THTI) operations and its financial picture. While these projects provide good job opportunities for people in the communities in which they reside, the profit margins are very thin and CCTHITA's "fixed" contracts give little flexibility in making the salaries of our employees competitive. This leads to higher rates of staff turn-overparticularly during the summer months.

Tribal program managers gave reports on each of their programs; giving detail on program eligibility and available resources. Generally speaking, people have more needs than CCTHITA has program resources to adequately address and then again CCTHITA has some programs set up for getting clients "job-ready" and we can't sustain a steady clientele of those eligible to make meaningful differences in unemployment rates.

One point that is always difficult to address is how to make CCTHITA programs available for those who do not reside in CCTHITA's geographic region. CCTHITA funding sources require a client to reside in the service area of Southeast Alaska to be eligible for most of CCTHITA's programs. While this is not good for those who reside outside of Southeast Alaska and need similar services, it is clear that the needs of people who reside in the region are generally greater than those of tribal citizens residing elsewhere.

Another recent concern is the rapidly rising cost of energy. This is a major problem for people who reside in rural communities. Energy costs are generally higher in rural communities because of the transportation cost. This is compounded by the fact that program benefits to the needy are not being adjusted to help the families pay for the higher costs creating undue strain on the entire household budget of our rural families.

The Council acted on all of the resolutions that were not acted upon at General Assembly, as well as on some of their own resolutions that authorize the Tribe to enter into new program contracts and renew existing contracts. They very much agree that CCTHITA should have an internal auditor but are not willing to waive the rule that prohibits a delegate from being an employee. It was felt that the waiving of such a rule sets precedence and gives a perception that it is okay for an employee to be a delegate or a delegate to be an employee so long as you can get the votes, and the Council felt this is not a good message.

The Council was appreciative and pleased with the reports they received from managers on their programs, but they want to ensure that program dollars are maximized and that CCTHITA expends all program dollars to make certain CCTHITA recovers all indirect costs that are owed to CCTHITA for managing these programs. The Council did not hear reports from a couple of program managers who will report at the Executive Council meeting scheduled for June 24th in Ketchikan.

The Council and management team will engage in strategic planning sometime before early fall. They would like to go through this process so that we will have a good plan for addressing the needs of our people while it is still early in their tenure. The Council will have access to monthly financial information on our internal web site; this will provide an opportunity to monitor the expenditures of all programs on a more frequent basis.

The Executive Council wants very much to keep in contact with delegates and other elected officials so the Council is going to be issuing periodic reports of their activities and the Council will be printing letterhead for them so that it is clear from whom the messages are coming from.

Future reports may get more deeply into the heart of a topic depending upon the need to be more detailed. Stay tuned for future reports.


Source of News & Photograph:

Jodi Wolf, CCTHITA Publications Department

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Ketchikan, Alaska