Quarterly Report: 2011, July - September (Q1), Nanwalek

Community:
Nanwalek 
Staff:
Ronalda Olivera  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
Native Village of Nanwalek 
Population:
222  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
2/2/2011 
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water is derived from a surface stream and is treated; a new surface water source is under development. Nanwalek has a piped water and sewer system which serves all homes in the village; most are completely plumbed. The village needs a larger water storage tank, new water and sewer mains, new fire hydrants, and a landfill expansion. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On July 27, 2010, RUBA staff and EPA Project Officer Martha Barber traveled to the village of Nanwalek to conduct a RUBA management assessment. The findings from the RUBA assessment will be presented in a written report that includes recommendations, and an offer of assistance will be provided for any capacity indicators that were not met during the visit. The council and community realize the importance of community health, financial stability, effective utility management practice and sustainability. RUBA staff spoke with the Soldotna Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Drinking Water Program Manager concerning the Nanwalek IRA water system. The system has been consitently on the Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list. ADEC is concerned about the frequency and type of violations because each of the violations represents a failure to operate and manage the water system in a manner that is consistent with public health protection. ADEC is requesing Nanwalek work with them in developing a written bilateral compliance agreement (BCA) in which Nanwalek outlines what steps are being taken to address the utility's deficiencies to include not only the monitoring and reporting violations, but also the deficiencies noted in the most recent Rural Utility Business Advisor (RUBA) assessment for Nanwalek. Addressing the deficiencies will ultimately improve the community's ability to sustain regulatory compliance and better protect public health for the long term. If Nanwalek does not take actions to address the problem with regulatory violations, the Drinking Water Program will take steps to pursue the administrative and monetary penalties. In November, Anchorage RUBA staff met with Nanwalek staff in Anchorage to answer questions about the new election ordinance and the next council election. Nanwalek staff requested advice on a schedule for passing the election ordinance so that the procedures will be followed for the next election. RUBA staff and the RUBA QuickBooks contractor traveled to Nanwalek in December to assist in setting up the utility accounting process. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will continue to work with the Nanwalek IRA Council as requested to assist them in meeting all of the unmet management indicators.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
24 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
19 of 27
Total Score:
43 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.
Yes 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
The Nanwalek IRA Tribal Council operated with a FY10 budget until September 30, 2011. They have adopted the Federal fiscal year or October 1 through September 30. Revenue and expenses for the water/wastewater utility are listed within the budget. It is anticipated that the water/wastewater utility will be once again subsidized with Indian Health Service (IHS) funds. Monthly financial reports are prepared and submitted to the policy making body each month. The utility is current in paying all water/wastewater electric bills. The bookkeeper provided a current statement from Homer Electric showing a zero balance. Through an agreement with the Nanwalek IRA, the North Pacific Rim Housing Authority manages the fuel sales for the community. The North Pacific Rim Housing Authority is an Indian Housing Authority authorized by state law to engage in or assist in the development of low-income housing for Alaska Native/American Indian families. The bookkeeper stated the bulk fuel facilities have a 24,000 gallon diesel tank and a 12,000 gallon gas tank. Each tank is kept at an adequate supply of fuel year round. Year-to-date revenues are at a level equal to or above those budgeted, however the water and sewer revenues are not sufficient to cover operating expenses. The utility receives revenues to cover wages for the operator but fails to secure user fees or other sources to sufficiently cover operating expenses and repair and replacement costs. Therefore, the tribe subsidizes its water and wastewater utility with funds received from Indian Health Services (IHS) passed through Chugachmiut. Year-to-date expenditures are at a level equal to or below those budgeted.

Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility has adopted a collection policy and actively follows it.
No 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
The Nanwalek IRA Tribal Council has an adopted collection policy but does not actively follow it. A customer accounts receivable report was provided showing a balance outstanding of over $160,000. In the community, not all of the homes have curb stops and those homes cannot be disconnected. The homes that do have stops are not being disconnected for non-payment. Customers are not billed on a regular basis (monthly). Billing is done on an irregular basis although all customers are being tracked through their QuickBooks accounting system. RUBA staff found that customer billing had been completed with errors and RUBA staff will work with the bookkeeper to resolve those issues. QuickBooks monitors accounts payable, accounts receivable, and calculates payroll and keeps records on file in the system. The bookkeeper provided a chart of accounts that identifies categories in a reasonable, usable manner. Monthly bank reconciliations are being completed for accounts. The current system for cash receipts to record incoming money is for staff to write a receipt of payment to the customer and enter the payment on the customer's account in QuickBooks. The bookkeeper then makes a deposit to the bank. The utility has a purchasing system that requires approval through the tribal administrator. Any item purchases over $5,000 must be approved by the council.

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 Nanwalek IRA Tribal Council does have a system in place to accurately calculate, track and report payroll tax liabilities. The bookkeeper files taxes online each pay period. The Council's First Chief signed a tax release form for the IRS. The IRS reported back that they are current on making all federal deposits. There are no past tax liabilities or liens on file.

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.
Yes 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 Nanwalek IRA Tribal Council has a posted worker's compensation insurance policy from Liberty Northwest Insurance Corporation that is in effect from March 21, 2010 to March 21, 2011. The Tribal Administrator states they follow their written personnel policy closely. The original policy was reviewed by Chugachmiut however, the administrator stated an updating and revising process is underway for all current written job descriptions within the tribal staff. The utility's personnel folders are orderly and contain a check list cover for each personnel file. Included on the check list is job application, job description, offer letter, payroll action form, W-4, I-9 with proper documentation, Alaska new hire reporting form, and drug free workplace agreement. There is a 90-day probation period for new hires. The staff is given opportunity to attend training and are allowed if funds are available or when opportunities by other sponsors become available.

Organizational Management

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The entity that owns the utility is known; the entity that will operate the utility is set.
Yes 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.
Yes The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
The Nanwalek IRA owns the utility and is known as the entity that operates the utility. The council is active in policy making of the utility and has adopted ordinances for the utility. However, they are not always enforcing their policy; an example of non-enforcement is the collection policy. The utility has adopted the required ordinances that authorize it to operate. A Provisional Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity has been issued for water and wastewater service from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. The Nanwalek IRA Tribal Council has an adequately trained bookkeeper who has worked there for more than 11 years and is currently training a backup bookkeeper. The tribe also has an adequately trained administrator/manager. The operator received his provisional certification in April 2010. The operator is working with the Remote Maintenance Worker (RMW) to continue his training for the Nanwalek facility. Currently, Nanwalek Water Plant has been designated a Level 2 plant. The utility has adopted an organizational chart that reflects the current structure. The council is not required to by law, however it meets as required and complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.

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
Yes 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.
Yes The utility has completed and distributed its "Consumer Confidence Report".
No 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 Nanwalek Utility Operator has completed and passed the Provisional level 1 exam in water treatment and wastewater treatment. The utility operator is being assisted by the Remote Maintenance Worker, Steve Evavold, from Village Safe Water. The utility also received a Provisional Certification from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and is working at the level of service proposed. The utility uses the Operation and Maintenance manual as the safety manual, however, there are no official meetings. The utility operator provides status reports only when there is a problem or he can foresee a problem. A CCR for 2009 has been completed and distributed to the community residents. The Nanwalek Utility does not meet all required drinking water regulations and is on the Significant Non-Compliance List. They are on the current listing dated May 20, 2010, for Total Coliform Rule (TCR), Surface Water Treatment Rule (SWTR), stage one violations and monitoring. A written list of inventory or critical spare parts is not available. RUBA staff was informed that the utility tries to buy what is needed but does not always have the funding.