Quarterly Report: 2013, January - March (Q3), Tatitlek

Community:
Tatitlek 
Staff:
Jedediah Smith  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
Native Village of Tatitlek 
Population:
76  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
4/22/2013 
Community Sanitation Overview:
Tatitlek is located on the northeast shore of Tatitlek Narrows, on the Alaska Mainland in Prince William Sound. It lies near Bligh Island, southwest of Valdez by sea and 30 air miles northwest of Cordova. Tatitlek is a coastal Alutiiq village with a fishing- and subsistence-based culture. The population is currently 76. Surface water is treated and stored in a 170,000-gallon tank. Forty-three homes and community buildings have piped water and wastewater service. The piped community septic tank system discharges via an ocean outfall.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
As of April 9, RUBA staff had not received a signed authorization to request federal tax information.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Tatitlek has agreed to sign a RUBA agreement, in order for RUBA staff to make quarterly on-site visits and support sustainable management practices. RUBA staff will continue to respond to any requests for training or managerial capacity development from the community.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
16 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
13 of 27
Total Score:
29 of 53

Finances

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.
No 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.
No YTD revenues are at a level equal to or above those budgeted.
No 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
The Tatitlek Village IRA Council is the governing body of the utility. The utility is fully subsidized by the community; residents do not pay any fees for water or wastewater services. The community pays the salary of the water operator, phone and internet costs related to the utility; Chugachmiut - the regional tribal consortium - pays for fuel and supplies associated with the water and wastewater utilities. The financial history of this community has been complex. The current new administration began its work to restore sustainable financial management practices within the last year. Contact with the RUBA program was initiated in order to access support and trainings which would help the community institute best practices. Many of the systems are in their inception and are not yet fully realized. For example, while the community produced a FY12 budget in April to account for prior year's funds, the final document is not detailed enough to provide relevant information. Salaries, for instance, are listed as a single lump line item, rather than being divided amongst different roles or program categories. The community is working with an accountant outside the community (Aleut Accounting) for overall bookkeeping services, with tribal office staff taking responsibility for the day-to-day workings of the community, payroll, and electric utility invoicing. Documents were not supplied which could confirm that YTD revenues and expenditures correspond with budgeted amounts. As the financial recording system is refined and the budget is expanded in detail, it will become easier to evaluate the relationship between intended income and expense with actual amounts. The tribal administrator reports that financial reports are not regularly given at scheduled meetings of the Tatitlek IRA Council and that utility management decisions are occasionally discussed by the council. Council meeting minutes and financial reports were requested, but were not provided. The community schedules monthly meetings, but is not always successful at raising a quorum, most particularly in the summer months. The most recent meeting was in June. Fuel is readily available, with purchases as needed. The community orders fuel from Whittier. The prior vendor was Crowley, but the community felt their fuel was too expensive. Access by barge is year-round, as the Prince William Sound is ice-free. The community sells heating fuel to residents from an Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) sponsored bulk fuel facility. Electricity is provided by the Tatitlek Electric Utility. A customer invoicing system has been developed on QuickBooks for the electric utility. Current financial issues related to the electric utility involve the process by which the electric utility operator reports hours worked; the council is considering placing him on a straight salary to contain expenses. The two local churches do not pay for electricity; the tribal council long ago made a decision to subsidize the churches. This has proven to be a very high cost, particularly with the community's Russian Orthodox Church, which is lit night and day. Typical monthly electricity costs for this building are in the range of $3000 a month. Tribal staff has attempted to negotiate conservation measures to reduce this expense; this has not been successful. Ultimately, the council may consider re-evaluating this subsidy, reallocating these resources elsewhere.

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.
Yes 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
Tatitlek uses QuickBooks for all its accounting - tribal grants, state grants, electric utility invoicing, and payroll. The new tribal administrator attended RUBA QuickBooks training in late 2011. The payroll system is set up accurately, correctly calculating payroll taxes. The tribal administrator reconciles bank statements each month. To date, monthly financial statements are not produced for the council; the tribal administrator intends to institute this practice. The community contracts with Aleut Accounting, an experienced accountant working outside the community. Regular communication and interaction between the Tatitlek Tribal Administrator and the community's accountant keep financial accounting current. Budgeting is grant specific, most particularly with BIA and Chugachmiut funds. Development of a consolidated fiscal year budget document will allow this information to be entered into QuickBooks, enabling the administrator to print out monthly reports which compare actual income and expenses to budgeted amounts. Oversight and controls for purchases are developed. Decision making related to disbursement in excess of anticipated amounts is brought to the tribal council for consideration.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility has a system to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities.
No The utility is current on filing tax reports.
No The utility is current on making tax deposits.
N/A 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
RUBA staff have not receive a signed authorization to request federal tax information for the quarter ending March 31, 2013. Tax clearance from the Alaska Department of Labor dated March 15, 2013 has been granted.

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.
No 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 community does have a comprehensive and well written personnel policy. Job descriptions are available for all positions, and were updated in a staff workshop which took place during this on-site visit. Individual personnel folders contain all required information, including I-9s, job applications, and personnel actions. Although adopted personnel policy calls for a probationary period for new hires and regular employee evaluation, this policy has not been applied under prior administrations. Current staff recognize the value of regular verbal and written evaluation, and intend to reinstate the practice. Money has been budgeted for costs of employee travel to trainings, as well as council member attendance at state-wide conferences. The community places a high priority in offering ongoing support for its employees to attend training opportunities. The tribal administrator has developed a spreadsheet which shows what trainings have been taken by staff, and when certifications expire. Tribal staff met with RUBA staff to list trainings they needed; the administrative assistant attended the RUBA Clerks Management for Rural Utility training September 10-14 in Anchorage.

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.
Yes 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.
No The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
As meeting minutes for the Tatitlek IRA Council were not provided during this assessment it is unknown whether the policy making body is adequately involved in utility policy. As there are no fees for water or wastewater services, collections policy is not an issue. As an IRA Council, meetings where only tribal business is discussed are not covered by the Open Meetings Act, however any council meeting with discussion regarding projects accessing state funds (Community Revenue Sharing, state grants, etc.) is required to be open to the public and posted with reasonable notice. Currently, council meetings are not posted, although the tribal administrator notes that they are typically open to the public. RUBA staff explained the application of the Open Meetings Act to wholly tribal entities, and the responsibility of the clerk to post any meetings which will discuss issues related to public funds. As the water utility was built and repaired with public funds, water utility related discussions fall under Open Meetings Act criteria.

Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility operator(s) are actively working towards necessary certification.
No 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.
No 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
The Tatitlek water operator holds certification in Water Treatment, Level 1, expiring 12/31/2013. CEU requirements for re-certification have not yet been met. The utility does not hold designated or documented safety meetings. There have been no major outages of the utility due to managerial errors. A notable issue in the operation of the utility is that the water operator is working without direct communication or management from administrative staff. During a work session in which RUBA staff facilitated the construction of an organizational chart, participants placed the position of the water operator as disconnected from the rest of the organization. The water plant is locked and the operator has the only key. Tatitlek chlorinates its water, and should anything happen to the operator while access to the plant is denied others, it could be hazardous to the community. A recommended practice is to have a second set of keys in the tribal office. This is a utility management issue which will need further resolution from the governing body. There is not a trained back-up water operator in the community. Two of the tribal staff - one in the administrative office and one in public works - volunteered during our meetings to attend training to get provisional licensure in water operations. This lack of communication resulted in an absence of a direct interview with the water operator during this on-site assessment visit. Public works personnel and office staff do not know of inventory control or spare parts lists, and those documents were not produced for this assessment. A preventive maintenance plan was similarly not obtained. Testing is done regularly, and a framed certificate from Analytica testifies to 'successful completion of your 2011 sampling program requirements'. Administrative staff state that a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) has not been produced in recent years. The water utility is not listed on the October 2012 Significant Non-Compiler List.