Petersburg Pilot -

PIA to increase employee hours by spring


Petersburg Indiana Association officials are hoping by March to restore recently cut employee hours.

Former Tribal Administrator Bruce Jones laid off himself and three other administrative positions last month in an effort to balance PIA’s budget.

Most other PIA positions are paid for through grant funding associated with its programs and services.

Ronelle Beardslee, PIA Office Manager, said in combination with those layoffs and other efforts, PIA’s financial situation is back on course.

“It was very difficult to cut these positions,” Beardslee said. “No one likes to do it. But it had to be done.”

PIA has three loans totaling around $800,000 it’s paying back after purchasing and renovating the Seaside Restaurant. Jones closed the restaurant last winter and the building is currently up for sale.

Beardslee said PIA is also working towards pulling away from under the umbrella of the Tlingit and Haida Central Council—a tribal government organization that represents Tlingit and Haida people worldwide.

Whenever PIA receives grant funding, the central council takes percentages of those funds as administrative costs. Beardslee said PIA could save more than $100,000 after receiving grants directly from funding sources like the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She said if that happens in January, PIA can gradually add hours back and add some of the positions there were cut.

“I really think we’re really sound financially,” Beardslee said. “Rumors were going around that we were ready to close our doors down and we are by no means even close to that.”

BIA officials also informed PIA last winter that its Johnson O’Malley grants, or JOM, weren’t in compliance with federal guidelines. Information wasn’t entered on time, entered incorrectly or not at all. But Brenda Louise, grants manager for PIA said staff has spent months combing through its grants and brought every single one into compliance.

“All of the books are in order and all of the quarterly reports are done…BIA is completely satisfied with all of our reports,” Louise reported to the PIA tribal council Monday.

“That’s been a big relief,” Beardslee said. “We finally feel like we’re getting on the right path here. Petersburg Indian Association will be able to start, within the next two or three months, adding more services to our native community.”

One such service is PIA’s wood delivery to elders and other tribal members who don’t have the means to cut and transport it themselves.

Beardslee said the council will likely review and pass a 2014 budget at its next meeting on December 2.

PIA offers financial assistance and other services to around 400 tribal members in the borough.


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