Cherokee Nation Votes On Nearly $1 Million Member Pay Raises
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma - The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council will be making a decision on giving pay raises to the tribe's administration and councilors, July 15.
The Council voted 12 yes, 4 no, and 1 abstaining on a resolution to block significant pay raises for tribal administration and councilors. The chief has 5 days to veto if he wishes to do so.
The raises would be close to $1 million.
At the committee meeting eight councilors voted in favor of a resolution to block pay raises, seven voted against it, and one didn't vote.
Dozens of Cherokee Nation members attended to hear how the tribal council would vote.
The debate is about an 84 percent increase for the principal chiefs' salary, a 104 percent increase to the deputy chiefs', 35 percent increases to councilors and a 26 percent increase for the deputy speaker.
"It's controversial, it's obscene, it's ugly and our people just won't stand for it," Dick Lay said, a member of the council.
Lay is one of three members who wrote the resolution to block the pay raises. After research and phone calls to the Compensation Committee, he came to a conclusion.
"I came back to my first thought of 'this is obscene and ugly'," Lay said.
Many tribal members agree with Lay, including Karen Houston.
"I think the pay raise is totally wrong," Houston said.
Houston wrote a letter to the councilors when she heard about it. Houston said the money could be spent on other things.
"If there's all this money laying there somewhere, then there's programs that need the money, and that's where the money needs to be going." Houston said. "Not into our council members' pockets."
Mike Shambaugh is one of the seven members who voted against the resolution. He said he spoke to the financial department and was told the raises wouldn't have a negative impact on any programs.
Houston said even if that was the case, the increases are unnecessary.
"I don't know anybody that's for it," Houston said. "They get plenty. You're not in it for the money, you're here to do good things for the people and for the right reasons."