Quarterly Report: 2008, July - September (Q1), Chenega

Community:
Chenega 
Staff:
Tammy Helms  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
Native Village of Chenega 
Population:
82  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
10/17/2007 
Community Sanitation Overview:
A surface water collection system with a dam, treatment, and storage capacity of 50,000 gallons, allows for piped distribution to all 25 homes in Chenega. Water treatment/storage improvements and a groundwater well source funds are being sought. Sewage is piped to a 20,000-gallon community septic tank; some homes use individual septic tanks. Refuse collection services are provided. An oil and hazardous waste recycling center was completed in 1998. Funds are needed to complete the purchase of an incinerator.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
RUBA staff traveled to Chenega June 19, 2007 to conduct a RUBA assessment of management capacity indicators. Chenega IRA does not currently meet all RUBA essential indictors in the areas of utility finance, accounting systems and organizational management. It is recommended that the Tribe work with RUBA staff to correct the RUBA indicators. Although the Tribal Administrator had told RUBA staff he would address the Council concerning these areas in the August meeting it did not happens. RUBA staff has seen no effort from the Tribe in satisfying these missing essential indicators.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will work with the Tribe in meeting the essential indicators in the areas of utility finance, accounting systems, and organizational management of the RUBA assessment.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
22 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
17 of 27
Total Score:
39 of 54

Finances

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.
Yes The utility has adopted a balanced realistic budget.
No Monthly financial reports are prepared and submitted to the policy making board.
Yes The utility is current in paying all water/wastewater electric bills.
Yes The utility has on hand a year's adequate fuel supply or it has a financial plan to purchase an adequate supply.
Yes The utility is receiving revenues (user fees or other sources) sufficient to cover operating expenses.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility is receiving revenues (user fees or other sources sufficient to cover operating expenses and Repair & Replacement (R) costs.
Yes YTD revenues are at a level equal to or above those budgeted.
Yes YTD expenditures are at a level equal to or below those budgeted.
No A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
Chenega IRA Tribal Council receives IHS funds by-passed through Chugachmiut. These funds are listed in the budget and used to subsidize the water and sewer department. The Community is small and reports approximately 23 water connections. Water treatment consists of filtering through a sand filter and chlorine injection. The expenses are limited to the basics because of the size of the system and the treatment process. The monthly financial report submitted to the Council consists of a QuickBooks Profit and Loss report. The Bookkeeper has suggested to the Council that they also review a budget vs. actual report but the Council prefers the profit and loss report. Currently the tribe has 5,100 gallons of diesel fuel and 1,500 gallons of gas for resale. The generator fuel is held separately from what is resold. The current inventory for that is 6,300 gallons. Within the week they are expecting a delivery of another 7,000 gallons of diesel which will be split between the generator supply and fuel for resale. As of 6-19-07 fuel prices were: Diesel $3.30/gallon Gas $3.71/gallon

Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility has adopted a collection policy and actively follows it.
Yes The utility bills customers on a regular basis.
Yes An accounts receivable system is in place which tracks customers and reports past due accounts and amounts.
Yes An accounts payable system is in place.
Yes The payroll system correctly calculates payroll and keeps records.
Yes A cash receipt system is in place that records incoming money and how it was spent.
Yes The utility has a cash disbursement system that records how money was spent.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
Yes A chart of accounts is used that identifies categories in a reasonable, usable manner.
Yes Monthly bank reconciliations have been completed for all utility accounts.
No The utility has a purchasing system that requires approval prior to purchase, and the approval process compares proposed purchases to budgeted amounts.
Accounting Systems Comments
Currently the Tribe has no collection policy in place. For this reason, the Tribe is not comfortable disconnecting delinquent customers. The Bookkeeper expressed interest in working with RUBA staff in drafting a policy for Council review. The Tribe utilizes QuickBooks for their accounting system. The water/sewer service is billed monthly along with a garbage charge. Customers are charged $10/month for water/sewer and $5/month for garbage. The expenses are tracked and reported through QuickBooks. When a customer pays, they are given a print out through QuickBooks which shows the invoice has been paid. The Tribe's purchasing system consists of making a request to the Bookkeeper, who conducts a price check. If the cost of the request is under a $1000, the Bookkeeper has the authority to make the order. If it is over $1000 it must be pre-approved by the Council. The approval process does not compare proposed purchases to budgeted amounts.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has a system to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities.
Yes The utility is current on filing tax reports.
Yes The utility is current on making tax deposits.
Yes If there are any past due tax liabilities or recorded tax liens, a lien release has been issued or a repayment agreement has been signed and repayments are current.
Tax Problems Comments
The tribe has signed a tax release form; the IRS responded that the tribe is currently compliant. All payroll is calculated, tracked, and payroll tax liabilities reports are completed, using QuickBooks accounting software.

Personnel System

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has a posted workers compensation insurance policy in effect.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has adopted and uses a Personnel Policy, which has been reviewed by an attorney, AML or Commerce for topics and language.
Yes The utility has adequate written job descriptions for all positions.
No The utility has adopted and follows a written personnel evaluation process that ties the job description to the evaluation.
Yes The utility has an adequate written hiring process.
Yes The utility has personnel folders on every employee that contain at least: I-9, Job Application and Letter of Acceptance.
Yes The utility has a probationary period for new hires that includes orientation, job training/oversight, and evaluations.
Yes The utility provides training opportunities to staff as needed and available.
Personnel System Comments
The Chenega IRA Tribal Council has a posted workers' compensation insurance policy in effect from 8/31/06 to 8/31/07. The Tribe has a written personnel policy that was presented to RUBA staff. The policy includes a probation period for new hires. Although there is a policy, there is some question as to how closely the policy is actually followed. The Tribe reports they do not follow a written personnel evaluation process that ties the job description to the evaluation. Training opportunities to staff are provided as funds allow or opportunities by other sponsors come available. The current water plant operator has received his OIT.

Organizational Management

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The entity that owns the utility is known; the entity that will operate the utility is set.
No The policy making body is active in policy making of the utility.
No The policy making body enforces utility policy.
Yes The utility has an adequately trained manager.
Yes The utility has an adequately trained bookkeeper.
Yes The utility has an adequately trained operator or operators.
No The utility has adopted the necessary ordinances (or rules and regulations) necessary to give it the authority to operate.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has adopted an organizational chart that reflects the current structure.
Yes The policy making body meets as required.
Yes The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
The Council meets monthly on the first Thursday of the month. The Council is actively involved with the Chenega Corporation on its many wealthy endeavors along with other large fund programs that are run through the Tribe. Because of this, policy making and enforcement of policy for the water and sewer department is often overlooked and the problem with collections is not addressed or enforced. The Bookkeeper was the prior utility operator and although he is not currently certified, he helps the current operator when necessary. This experience helps him in being knowledgeable and well versed in the utility in all aspects from billing to the obstacles the utility faces. The Tribe has an OIT trained utility operator. The system is rated by the State of Alaska as a level 1 plant. Due to the hour requirements that a level 1 or 2 operator must submit to obtain that certification, the current work schedule does not allow the operator to obtain Level 1 or 2 status. The Bookkeeper stated he believed there is a water/sewer ordinance but because of the disorganization of the ordinance records, it would be very difficult and time consuming to find it.

Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility operator(s) are actively working towards necessary certification.
Yes The utility has a preventative maintenance plan developed for the existing sanitation facilities.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
No The manager receives a monthly O&M report from the utility operator and routinely "spot checks" the facilities to see that the maintenance items are being completed.
No The utility has a safety manual and holds safety meetings.
Yes Utility facilities have not suffered any major problems/outages due to management issues that are unresolved.
Yes The utility is operating at the level of service that was proposed.
Yes The operator provides status reports to the manager on a routine basis.
No The utility has completed and distributed its "Consumer Confidence Report".
Yes The utility is not on the "Significant Non-Complier" (SNC) list.
No The utility maintains an inventory control list.
No The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
As stated previously, the Tribe has an OIT trained utility operator. The operator attends periodic training as funds allow or opportunities by other sponsors become available. The RMW also provides onsite training when he is in the community. A preventative maintenance plan was developed and adopted for the sanitation facility. The Utility Operator reports verbally to the Tribal Administrator and or Bookkeeper when there is a problem or he can foresee one, but no spot checks are completed. The Bookkeeper holds safety meetings with the electric utility employee but not the water operator. The Water Operator is currently working on completing the 2006 CCR. The Water Operator and Bookkeeper keep a mental inventory and critical spare parts list but there is no written record.