Quarterly Report: 2014, July - September (Q1), Nanwalek

Community:
Nanwalek 
Staff:
Roberta Eleazer  
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:
10/10/2013 
Community Sanitation Overview:
Nanwalek has an aging water delivery system with major leaks that contribute to inefficiencies and waste of treated water. Additionally, erosion problems have contributed to challenges with the reservoir, and the system has gone dry on a number of occasions in the last several years. These problems have led the community to investigate funding opportunities to replace the water distribution system. Nanwalek's delivery system lacks curb stops, which make it difficult to enforce shut-off notices for delinquent payments. The utility has a low collection rate and it is believed this is a contributing factor. The utility thus subsidizes water use with outside funding. While the water system is considered safe by local officials, Nanwalek remains on a boil water notice due to the lack of a certified water operator. The current water operator is studying in preparation for a certification course scheduled for May.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
RUBA staff received a signed authorization to request tax information from the Nanwalek IRA on June 18, 2013. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will continue to work with the Nanwalek IRA to improve capacity indicators if requested by the community. The entity name on the 941 employment tax return must be verified before IRS tax clearance is granted.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
19 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
16 of 27
Total Score:
35 of 54

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
RUBA staff have requested, but not received the most recent utility budget. Although tribal staff stated monthly financial reports are prepared and submitted to the council, RUBA staff was unable to confirm this. The most recent meeting minutes provided were dated October 2012. The utility is current in paying electric bills for all liabilities including the water treatment plant. Nanwalek has an adequate supply of fuel on hand and receives fuel delivery approximately quarterly. The village has a 24,000 gallon diesel tank and a 12,000 gallon gas tank. According to financial reports provided to RUBA staff in the past, the utility is receiving revenue sufficient to cover operating expenses, though only a small amount actually comes from utility customers. The Nanwalek IRA subsidizes the utility with Indian Health Services (IHS) payments from Chugachmiut. The budget does not contain information regarding repair and replacement line items or any budgeted amounts for equipment or maintenance. Year to date revenues are at levels equal to those budgeted. However, the water and wastewater revenues are not sufficient to cover expenses. Accounts Receivables indicate customers owe more than $28,000 in water use fees. Tribal staff said monthly utility reports are provided to the council. However, RUBA staff was unable to confirm this.

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
The Nanwalek IRA has a collections policy, but the community's distribution system does not have curb-stops, making enforcement of delinquent payments difficult. The utility does bill customers on a monthly basis and does send utility statements with past due amounts. The utility does not send a past due letter stating delinquent payments or explaining enforcement policies or the consequences of non-payment. Nanwalek uses a QuickBooks accounting system. The bookkeeper provided a chart of accounts that identifies categories in a usable manner. Customers are tracked through Nanwalek's QuickBooks accounting system and most customers are several months past due. A payroll system is in place and the bookkeeper stated payroll taxes are paid every two weeks. The bookkeeper also stated that bank reconciliations of past utility accounts is performed regularly, though sometimes falls a month behind. The utility has a purchase order system that must receive approval from the tribal administrator prior to purchases made.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes 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.
No 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
Nanwalek received tax clearance from the State Department of Labor through June 30, 2013. Nanwalek is not listed on the July-August Lien Watch Report. RUBA staff received a signed authorization to request tax information. However, the IRS taxpayer advocate service returned the request as 'unprocessable' claiming the entity name and EIN do not match. Nanwalek has been compliant with filings and payments in the past. The proper entity name must be verified with a copy of the latest 941 return.

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 Nanwalek IRA Tribal Council has a posted workers compensation insurance policy from Liberty Mutual valid through September, 2013. Job descriptions are kept on file in the tribal office and are comprehensive in their scope of working conditions, minimum qualifications, drug and alcohol policies and Native hire preference. Positions are at-will. While the utility did not provide a written hiring practice, historically, jobs are posted around the village. The utility personnel folders are in order and contain signed copies of the safety policy, drug free workplace, W-4, I-9, Certificate of Indian Blood, offer of employment and employment application. Staff are given opportunities to attend training and are authorized for travel 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
Nanwalek IRA owns the water 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, the council is not always able to enforce all policies. An example of this is the collections 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 15 years of accounting experience with the regional non-profit, working in various payroll and accounts payable capacities. The Tribe's administrator was previously the bookkeeper for over 15 years and has functioned as the water operator. The utility has adopted an organizational chart that reflects the current structure. The council meets as required and complies with the open meetings 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
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.
Yes 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
Nanwalek recently hired an operator who received his provisional certification in May. The tribal administrator functions as a backup operator, as he has served as the utility operator in the past. However, he does not hold a valid certification either. The utility has received a provisional certificate from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and is working at the level of service proposed. The water plant functions as designed, though the system itself has several problems, including leaks in the distribution system and a small reservoir that is shrinking due to erosion. The utility manager tries to keep in touch verbally with the water plant operator on a daily basis, though may go for several days without communicating. A CCR for 2011 has been completed and is posted for community residents. The utility is not listed on the most recent April 2013 Significant Non-Compliance list. A written list of inventory or critical spare parts is not available. RUBA staff was informed that the utility has spare parts on hand, but does not keep track of what parts. If a part is needed, it is usually ordered and delivered in a timely fashion.