PABLO – The Tribal Council approved a plan to distribute a total of $2.9 million in retention incentive pay for Tribal employees. The one-time pay will be provided to eligible Tribal government employees as of May 16, 2023, to be paid as soon as administratively possible.

CSKT Financial Management presented the proposal to the Council on May 16, 2023, and explained the requirements for compliance for use of the funds which were received by CSKT in 2021 under the American Rescue Plan Act. Use of funds is subject to the U.S. Treasury’s final rule published January 27, 2022 and are effective April 1, 2022. 

The American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA as it is commonly referred, distributed just over $80 million to CSKT; part of which was based on the enrolled Tribal population and part on Tribal workforce levels. In June 2021, Council began discussing its priorities and allocated premium pay for Tribal employees, which will be distributed as retention incentive pay.

ARPA funds have funded a total of $48 million in direct economic relief payments to Tribal members in 2021, 2022, and 2023 as well as providing resources for critical services in broadband infrastructure, homelessness and supportive housing, government facilities improvements, homeowners’ assistance, and water/sewer infrastructure. CSKT must obligate the funds by December 31, 2024, and fully expend the funds by December 31, 2026.

After the final rule was published, CSKT Financial Management began analyzing the data and the regulatory guidance in order to develop methods for calculating premium pay. Guidance for evaluating potential recipients of ARPA-funded retention payments was based on Montana’s median income levels as well as a factor above that median level. The average wage of all occupations in Montana as of May 2022 is $52,220 ($25.11/hr) of which approximately 741 CSKT employees earn at or below that amount. Employees earning more than $52,220 will receive payments of lesser amounts. This methodology provides the greatest benefit to the lowest salaried employees, as required by the regulations. 

An estimated 1,262 eligible employees will receive the lump sum retention incentive pay in the coming weeks. Just over 84 percent of the total disbursements will benefit employees currently earning 100 percent or less of the median $52,220 salary amount. 

Federal funds for major programs such as ARPA are scrutinized federally and in CSKT’s annual audit; the goal is to reduce the administrative burden and ensure compliance for administering and expending the funds.

Questions may be directed to any of the following CSKT staff:p Personnel, 675-2700 extension 1040; Payroll, 675-2700 extension 1021 or extension 1298; or Financial Management, 675-2700 extension 1034.

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