RUBA Community Status Report

Community Name: Chistochina (Cheesh'Na)


Community:

Chistochina (Cheesh'Na)

RUBA:

Yes

Staff:

Robin Eleazer

Agreement:

No

DCA Region:

Anchorage

Agreement Date:

Region:

Copper River

Exp Date:

Govt Type(s):

Tribal Council

Borough:

Unorganized

Assessment Date:

8/30/2012

Population:

104

Active Community:

Yes

Date Updated:

10/11/2013


Community Sanitation Overview:

Almost half of residences have individual wells; the remainder haul untreated water from the Community Center. Sixty percent of residents use individual wastewater tanks; the rest have outhouses or pit privies. About 40 percent of homes are completely plumbed. The old landfill was closed and cleaned up. The refuse transfer facility is located near the airport; Copper Basin Sanitation transfers the refuse to Glennallen. Electricity is provided out of Tok by Alaska Power and Telephone.

RUBA Status
and Activities
this Quarter:

Anchorage RUBA staff has contacted tribal staff to get RUBA documents that address RUBA indicators. A signed Authorization to Request Federal Tax Information was sent to the IRS on August 27, 2013.

 

Capacity Indicator: Finances

Essential Indicators:

N/A

All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.

N/A

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:

N/A

The utility is receiving revenues (user fees or other sources sufficient to cover operating expenses and Repair & Replacement (R) costs.

N/A

YTD revenues are at a level equal to or above those budgeted.

N/A

YTD expenditures are at a level equal to or below those budgeted.

Yes

A monthly manager's report is prepared.

No

Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.

Comment:

The Cheesh'na Tribal Council does not have a constructed utility system. The association has funding allocated through the Village Safe Water (VSW) program, and the project is in the construction phase. The tribal council - the tribe's governing body - will serve as the utility board once the project has been completed next spring. There is no utility budget available to assess because the utility has not been built. Financial reports for programs run by the tribe are prepared and submitted to the tribal council at each meeting by the Chief Financial Officer. Tribal staff provided a projected budget for the estimated annual operation and repair costs for their $2.5 million water project scheduled to be commenced and completed this summer. On the March 7, 2012 on-site visit, tribal staff provided copies of the council minutes and other budget documents showing actual year-to-date income and expenses compared to budgeted amounts for all the council's programs for each month, from the beginning of the tribe's fiscal year last October. Minutes from the last three council meetings and copies of the Chief Financial Officer's (CFO) financial reports from those meetings were provided; the written reports and verbal presentations by the CFO were reflected in the meeting minutes. Monthly financial reports for the utility with year-to-date revenues and expenditures cannot be generated until the utility has been constructed and the tribal council, acting as the utility board, begins to bill customers. Once the utility has been built and the project's final costs have been determined, the council will need to discuss and decide on utility rates. The tribe receives lease funds monthly for office space so there is considerable revenue that can be used cover or supplement the utility's operating expenses and repair and replacement costs, if needed. However, RUBA staff recommends the utility set the rates at a level sufficient to cover all utility operating costs. The tribal council is actively planning for the new system and has gone through various discussions and budget variations that will best serve the community. The council is current on paying all the electric bills for the community hall, the tribal council office and health clinic. An Alaska Power and Telephone bill was provided and is current. Fuel is delivered on an as-needed basis by Crowley or Fisher Fuel in Glennallen.

 

Capacity Indicator: Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators:

N/A

The utility has adopted a collection policy and actively follows it.

N/A

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:

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.

Comment:

The Cheesh'na Tribal Council has not previously operated a utility. Tribal staff provided a draft of their utility policy that includes procedures for dealing with delinquent accounts, disconnection for nonpayment, and notice and hearing requirements for disconnection. Once the utility has been constructed, the tribal council will adopt final policies and procedures for the utility. The tribe uses Macintosh computers. Accounting has been done with Multi-Ledger by Check Mark software since 1990. Multi-Ledger is a full-feature software package with general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory, payroll, and job-costing capabilities. The tribal administrator and chief financial officer both report they are not interested in changing software. The chart of accounts provided includes accounts for tracking cash, accounts receivable, fixed assets, accounts payable, payroll taxes, accrued leave, loans, fund balances, revenue for each source of funds, salary expense, payroll taxes expense, advertising, supplies, contractual equipment, insurance, travel and utilities. Each different activity is assigned its own account number. The chart of accounts appears organized with revenue and expenses having a sub-category by function to allow for data selection. The only invoices issued are for office space rental. Reconciliations are done monthly for bank accounts on the tenth day of each month. The Cheesh'na Tribal Council uses a check request system. RUBA staff was given a copy of the tribe's forty-two page procurement policy. Under that policy, the administrator has authority to authorize purchases up to $5,000. Any purchase over $5,000 requires tribal council approval.

 

Capacity Indicator: Tax Problems

Essential Indicators:

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.

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.

Comment:

RUBA staff received a signed authorization to request tax information. However, the IRS taxpayer advocate office would not process the form as the entity name did not match the EIN. Chistochina received tax clearance from the State Department of Labor and is not listed on the July-August Lien Watch report. The tribe's Chief Financial Officer is responsible for calculating the tax owed, tracking, and making the required tax payments and filing reports.

 

Capacity Indicator: Personnel System

Essential Indicators:

Yes

The utility has a posted workers compensation insurance policy in effect.

Sustainable Indicators:

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.

Comment:

The tribe has workers compensation insurance through Alaska National Insurance Company as of September 27, 2013 with no lapse in coverage; the policy is posted. The tribe has adequate written job descriptions for all positions and an adequate written hiring process. Tribal staff provided a thirty-seven page personnel policy that described the hiring process. The Cheesh'na Tribal Council exercises Indian Preference under US PL 93-638, Section 7(b) which gives preference for training and employment to members of the tribe before considering any other candidate. Employees receive insurance benefits, accrue annual leave, and are entitled to 12 paid holidays each year. Sick leave is accrued at a rate of eight hours each month for full-time employees. Sick leave for part-time employees is pro-rated. A performance review will be done six months after start of employment. Thereafter, employee performance reviews are conducted annually. Training opportunities for all employees are provided regularly. Tribal staff provided a copy of the I-9, job application and letter of acceptance for one employee as an example of documents kept in their personnel files. The tribe has personnel folders on every employee that contain an application, I-9, copies of personal identification, W-4 form, payroll authorization, training certifications and other pertinent information.

 

Capacity Indicator: Organizational Management

Essential Indicators:

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.

Yes

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.

N/A

The utility has adopted the necessary ordinances (or rules and regulations) necessary to give it the authority to operate.

Sustainable Indicators:

Yes

The utility has adopted an organizational chart that reflects the current structure.

Yes

The policy making body meets as required.

N/A

The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.

Comment:

The Cheesh'na Tribal Council is the only form of local government within the community. The tribal council meets quarterly as required by the tribal constitution and more often as the need arises. On the average, the tribal council meets ten times a year. Council meetings are advertised and the public is welcome to attend. Provisions are included on every agenda for hearing public comments. The tribal administrator is responsible for managing all day-to-day operations of the council. A part-time bookkeeper has been employed since 2001. The Cheesh'na Tribal Council has not adopted a utility ordinance but has adopted and enforces other policies such as personnel and follows the requirements of their tribal constitution. An organization chart was provided showing four full-time employees and three part-time employees under the current organizational structure.

 

Capacity Indicator: Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators:

Yes

The utility operator(s) are actively working towards necessary certification.

N/A

The utility has a preventative maintenance plan developed for the existing sanitation facilities.

Sustainable Indicators:

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.

N/A

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.

N/A

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.

Comment:

In November 2011, three individuals in Chistochina received Small Water Systems Provisional Level 1 training; two passed the exams and are provisionally certified for water treatment and distribution. The backup operator was awarded 2.4 CEUs for attending the Intermediate Water Distribution and Wastewater Collections Workshop February 19-21, 2013. Since there is no utility in place, no preventative maintenance plan has been adopted. Once the utility has been built, inventory control and critical spare parts lists should be developed. There is a safety manual (that contains the manufacturer's operation and maintenance manuals) for the existing system. The utility needs to hold regular safety meetings. The operator should be providing status reports to the manager on a routine basis. The water system is not on the July 2013 SNC list.

RUBA Activities for the Coming Quarter:

RUBA staff is available to provide assistance for any essential or sustainable capacity indicators that are not being met. RUBA must confirm the entity name with the EIN on the entity's most recent quarterly tax filing before requesting more information from the IRS.