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Navajo Nation Council Overrides Nez Veto

Navajo Nation Council Overrides Nez Veto
January 02
05:47 2020

President Jonathan Nez

Navajo Council Overrides Nez Veto

By John Christian Hopkins

Ah, the road not taken.

Should the path to NTUA’s financial future be crafted by a slow and steady slog? Or a sudden explosion?

Walter Haase, general manager of the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, urged the Navajo Nation Council to approve a $1 billion increase in the NTUA’s debt ceiling.

The 24th Navajo Nation Council agreed.

But President Jonathan Nez vetoed the legislation.

Nez said he was not opposed to gradual increases to the debt ceiling, but he wanted to see some results before making such a huge commitment.

Last week NTUA received an early Christmas present as the council voted to override Nez’s nix and raise NTUA’s debt ceiling from $500 million to $1.5 billion.

But who will be left with coal in their stocking?

With the closure of the Navajo Generating Station, near Page, and the Kayenta mine the tribe is facing a loss of jobs and an incredible financial hit to its economy.

Council, obviously, is betting that the raised debt ceiling will allow NTUA to pursue salves to sooth the shattering loss of jobs and the shaken economic forecast.

Some of the projects NTUA is planning to go after with the help of the
increase are: a 70-megawatt solar project in Red Mesa, Ariz., and
expanding on infrastructure such as the water and wastewater plants in
Kayenta, Shiprock, Tuba City and Navajo, N.M., as well as water
plants in Aneth, Kayenta, Montezuma Creek, Utah, and Lower Greasewood, Ariz.

Also, the NTUA is also looking to take over Southern Trails Pipeline in northern Navajo, which goes from Bloomfield across to Shiprock, Red Mesa then on to Tuba City.

NTUA also want to expand electrical service territories in Tuba City and
eastern Navajo chapters, reach more communities with wireless and
broadband services and replace and upgrade infrastructure.

Nez does not oppose all these projects, but believes they need more discussion and a slower increase to the debt ceiling. He argued that it would be better to see some of the projects come to fruition rather than throw everything in the mix at once.

NTUA is not seeking monetary assistance from the tribe, Haase said. The debt ceiling increase only means that NTUA can borrow more from lenders, he explained.

The last time NTUA was able to increase its debt ceiling was in 2010 from $200 million to the current $500 million.

Haase said the council override was a “victory” for the Navajo people.

With the $1 billion increase in additional debt, NTUA must report to the
Navajo people how the overall $1.5 billion it plans to borrow will be
used and how it will benefit communities in terms of providing
electricity, water, and natural gas throughout the Navajo Nation, Nez said.

Navajo Nation Council Overrides Nez Veto - overview

Summary: Navajo Nation Council Overrides Nez Veto


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