Pending a final Osage Congressional vote, the appropriation bill for a new Pawhuska village dance arbor will fund most of the project after the bill (ONCA 14-56) received a $100,000 cut during the Sept. 25 session.

Following discussion and debate on the original $2.5 million bill to fund the new arbor construction, its site work and demolishing the current arbor, the Fourth Osage Nation Congress voted 8-4 to cut the bill down to $2.4 million.

The Congress was slated to consider a reducing the bill to $2.25 million, but a last-minute amendment for funding the project at $2.4 million received majority vote first.

Congressman Otto Hamilton, the bill’s sponsor, said he spoke with the Pawhuska arbor committee and was informed the $100,000 reduction would be fine, therefore not hampering the construction efforts for the project that will include the metal arbor itself, sidewalks, new utilities and a restroom/ concession stand building. Hamilton then motioned to change the bill amount from $2.25 million to $2.4 million.

This is the second bill in two years considered by the Legislative Branch to fund constructing a dance arbor. In 2012, the Third ON Congress passed two bills totaling $1.5 million to build the Grayhorse roundhouse arbor. The second bill used to fund that project also received a cut to $990,000 as the Congress considered the bill during budget time as well.

For the Pawhuska arbor project, Hamilton said the additional costs are due to site work including sidewalk paving, utilities would need replacing and relocating, and storm mitigation work is needed. The arbor itself will be square in size covering 36,100 square feet.

Congressman Shannon Edwards said she is concerned the $2.4 million recommendation did not come from the project architect versus the arbor committee. “I think we should try to appropriate the amount of money it’s going to cost for the arbor,” she said.

Congressman RJ Walker said he is against reducing the bill and recalled the $2.5 million figure was shared by the architect and those familiar with the project during the Congressional Cultural Committee held Sept. 22.

Congressman Ron Shaw also recalled the project presentation, which included money for new family benches which is separate from the arbor structure. “There are pieces of the project that are considered optional – ‘bells and whistles’ – so I think some reduction is reasonable,” he said.

Congresswoman Alice Buffalohead said the only issue she has with the plans is the family benches paid for by the Nation. “I think the families need to pay for those themselves, when we start getting into that, other districts may have an issue with that,” she said.

The amendment to reduce the arbor bill to $2.4 million passed 8-4. “Yes” votes came from Congressmen Archie Mason, James Norris, Angela Pratt, Shaw, William “Kugee” Supernaw, Buffalohead, John Jech and Speaker Maria Whitehorn. “No” votes came from Congressmen John Maker, Walker, Edwards and Hamilton.

ONCA 14-56 will now be subject to a second reading (final vote) during the Sept. 26 session.

Also on Sept. 25, the Congress passed:

ONCA 14-68 – a $370,000 appropriation to replenish the burial assistance fund. The bill passed unanimously.

ONCA 14-69 – a $100,000 appropriation for the Nation’s capital assets/ improvement fund. The bill passed with a 7-5 vote. “No” votes came from Edwards, Norris, Supernaw, Jech and Whitehorn.

ONCA 14-71 – the $2.8 million budget for the Nation’s cultural/ heritage/ language division. The bill passed unanimously.

ONCA 14-74 – The $1,250,000 bill to pay the campus master plan loan. The bill passed unanimously.

ONCA 14-76 – The $3.5 million budget for the Nation’s heath/ fitness/ wellness division. The bill passed unanimously.

ONCA 14-77 – The $9.4 million budget for the Nation’s land/ commerce/ public safety division. The bill passed unanimously.