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Department heads within the Ute Indian Tribe have been instructed to cut all budget line items by 50 percent in an effort to erase some of the red ink brought on by an anticipated revenue shortfall of $1.6 million.

According to a recent article in the Ute Bulletin, when the tribe submitted a $13,327,000 operating budget for the current fiscal year, it over estimated projected revenue from taxes by $1.6 million.One million dollars of the shortfall is the result of a proposed "throughout tax," which would have been placed on oil and gas moving through pipelines running across the reservation. However, the tax was never enacted. The remaining $600,000 of the shortfall is blamed on severance tax revenue that failed to materialize as predicted in the first two quarters of the year due to declining oil prices.

With four months remaining in the 1994 fiscal year, tribal department heads have been directed to cut all line items by half but not to cut salaries or benefits. In addition, there will be no more travel until further notice, and the tribe's Summer Youth Program has been canceled.

The across-the-board budget cuts are expected to save the tribe $500,000. Because salaries are being held sacred, however, employees will have no supplies to work with because of the drastic cuts.

Ron Wopsock, vice-president of the governing Business Committee said tribal leaders are continuing to discuss possible budget-cutting measures to make up for the remaining deficit. One possibility not being considered is placing employees on mandated leave without pay. Employees who wish to can volunteer to take time off without pay.

Pat Wyasketo, tribal executive director remains optimistic. He believes that with $500,000 in a Bureau of Indian Affairs Land Lease account, combined with the 50percent budget cut and incoming revenue the tribe "should be able to make it to next year." The tribe also stands to gain millions of dollars in federal funds should they ratify the Ute Water Compact as part of the Central Utah Project.

Last year the tribe experienced a revenue shortfall and was almost to the point of furloughing employees, but funds came through.