RUBA Community Status Report

Community Name: Akiachak IRA


Community:

Akiachak IRA

RUBA:

Yes

Staff:

Fred Broerman

Agreement:

Yes

DCA Region:

Bethel

Agreement Date:

Region:

Lower Kuskokwim

Exp Date:

Govt Type(s):

Tribal Council

Borough:

Unorganized

Assessment Date:

4/1/2010

Population:

644

Active Community:

Yes

Date Updated:

9/29/2013


Community Sanitation Overview:

The Akiachak Native Community-IRA operates the washeteria, water treatment plant, garbage collection, and the honeybucket haul system. The IRA council is the policy making body for the utility. In 1998, two wells were drilled for a new water treatment plant. The water treatment plant, wastewater lagoon and road to the lagoon were completed by 2001. However, from 2001 to 2005, the water treatment plant was closed due to concerns regarding the tribe's financial capacity to operate it. During the four years it was not used, the water plant building, its internal fixtures, and gauges were severely damaged by mold growth. From 2005 to 2006 about one million dollars in Village Safe Water (VSW) funding was used to restore the water plant back to operation. From 2007 to 2008, 72 homes, the school and teacher's housing units (all on the west side of town) were connected to piped water and wastewater. On August 3, 2009, VSW sent a letter notifying the tribe that compliance with RUBA essential indicators would be required before construction funds, necessary to finish connecting the remaining homes to piped water, could be released. A RUBA assessment was completed for Akiachak's water utility on April 1, 2010. However, because budget and financial information was not provided by the tribe, many of the RUBA essential indicators were found non-compliant. Currently, about half of the community residents (on the east side of the village) are not on a piped system, and haul water from the community's watering point, paying 25 cents for 20 gallons. In winter, the watering point freezes up and residents cut and melt ice or draw water from the Kuskokwim River. For $10 per month, the tribe provides hopper haul for sewage of non-piped customers, which is deposited in the old lagoon. Residences connected to piped water and wastewater service pay $118 per month.

RUBA Status
and Activities
this Quarter:

Correspondences have been emailed to the tribe on March 16 and 22, June 6, September 12, and December 18, 2012 as well as March 11, April 5, June 13, and September 19, 2013, requesting documents needed for verification of RUBA essential indicators. At the time of this writing, the tribe has not provided most of the requested information needed to re-evaluate many RUBA indicators. On June 28, 2013 ANTHC's engineer assigned to Akiachak visited the community. His trip report states 'Some Community leaders indicated that there had not been a good understanding of the issues related to the RUBA and the potential impact on funding. There is currently interest in addressing the deficiencies and steps are being taken to have an assessment conducted.' On July 26, 2013, Bethel RUBA staff contacted the tribal office by phone to ask for details needed for updating this report. The tribe's business manager took the call and asked for application materials for obtaining a gaming permit for the tribe. She also expressed interest in working toward RUBA compliance. Bethel staff emailed her contact information and links to the State of Alaska Gaming Division and suggested she invite RUBA staff to the tribal offices to work with the IRA's staff. The community subsidizes its water and wastewater operations through gaming proceeds, but the tribe has not held a State of Alaska Gaming permit since 1990 and continues to hold gaming activities. Since May 2010, billing for the tribe's piped water and wastewater system has been handled by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's (ANTHC) Billing Assistance Service which bills about seventy-five residential and commercial customers.

 

Capacity Indicator: Finances

Essential Indicators:

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.

No

The utility is current in paying all water/wastewater electric bills.

No

The utility has on hand a year's adequate fuel supply or it has a financial plan to purchase an adequate supply.

No

The utility is receiving revenues (user fees or other sources) sufficient to cover operating expenses.

Sustainable Indicators:

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.

Comment:

The tribe has not provided the Bethel RUBA office with an adopted budget for FY11, FY12, FY13 or FY14. Nor has it provided RUBA staff with monthly financial reports since July 2010, or meeting minutes that document that the tribal council has an opportunity to review financial reports. The community subsidizes its water and wastewater operations through gaming proceeds. A September 29, 2013 query of the State of Alaska Gaming Permit data base indicates that the IRA does not have a 2013 gaming permit, nor has it had one since 1990, yet continues to hold gaming activities. A September 29, 2013 DCRA Bulk Fuel Loan Program report indicates that the tribe significant outstanding balance on its bulk fuel loans. At the time of this writing, the tribe has not provided information needed to re-evaluate several RUBA indicators for this section.

 

Capacity Indicator: Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators:

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.

No

The payroll system correctly calculates payroll and keeps records.

No

A cash receipt system is in place that records incoming money and how it was spent.

No

The utility has a cash disbursement system that records how money was spent.

Sustainable Indicators:

No

A chart of accounts is used that identifies categories in a reasonable, usable manner.

No

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.

Comment:

The tribe's accounting is done with QuickBooks Pro and they operate on a calendar fiscal year. An example of the IRA's water and wastewater billing statement as well as the collections policy have been provided and are on file at the Bethel regional office. Billing for Akiachak's piped water and wastewater services has been handled by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's (ANTHC) Billing Assistance Service since May 2010. Financial summaries from ANTHC indicate that the tribe has a 93% year to date collection rate for piped customers for (federal) FY13. The high collection rates indicate that the tribe is probably enforcing its collection policy for its piped customers. However, an accounts receivable aging report for the tribe's non-piped customers has not been submitted to the Bethel regional office for over two years. Therefore, the Accounting Systems essential indicator that states: 'The utility has adopted a collection policy and actively follows it' is marked 'No'. At the time of this writing, the tribe has not provided information needed to re-evaluate RUBA indicators for this section.

 

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.

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.

Comment:

A July 1, 2013 correspondence from the IRS showed the tribe having significant back taxes from March 2011. The tribe also has significant delinquent federal 941, 11C and 730 taxes for tax years 2003-2009 which are listed on the July-August 2013 LIEN WATCH: A Review of Small Community Liens. As of this writing, the tribe does not have a State of Alaska 2013 gaming permit and is not current on the fees owed to the Department of Revenue for gaming activities. Therefore, three of the 'Tax Problems' essential indicators are marked 'No'. A September 23, 2013 email correspondence from the State of Alaska's Department of Labor office in Anchorage indicates that the IRA has a balance due on ESC payments for the 2nd quarter of 2013.

 

Capacity Indicator: Personnel System

Essential Indicators:

No

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.

No

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.

No

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:

A September 29, 2013 query done on the Department of Labor's Worker's Compensation employer database indicates that the tribe does not have workers' compensation insurance for its employees. A September 28, 2012 phone conversation with Alaska Department of Labor personnel in Juneau indicated the tribe has not had worker's compensation insurance since June 15, 2010. Therefore, the only essential indicator in the Personnel Systems section of this report is marked 'No'. Akiachak Native Community Personnel Policy, adopted on June 15, 2004, is on file at the Bethel regional office. Tribal employees have attended RUBA sponsored trainings over the last three years. At the time of this writing, the tribe has not provided information needed to re-evaluate RUBA indicators for this section.

 

Capacity Indicator: Organizational Management

Essential Indicators:

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.

No

The utility has an adequately trained manager.

No

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:

No

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

No

The policy making body meets as required.

No

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

Comment:

Financial summaries from ANTHC indicate that the tribe has a 93% year to date collection rate for piped customers for (federal) FY13. The high collection rates indicate that the tribe is probably enforcing its collection policy for its piped customers. However, an accounts receivable aging report for tribe's non-piped customers has not been submitted to the Bethel regional office for over two years. Therefore, the Accounting Systems essential indicator that states: 'The policy making body enforces utility policy' is marked 'No'. Akiachak Native Community Water and Sewer Ordinance as well as Akiachak Piped Water and Sewer System Business Plan are in RUBA Bethel office files. The business plan was completed in January 2005 and contains a utility organization chart on page 4. An updated organization chart along with documentation that it has been adopted by the tribal council should be sent to the Bethel regional office. The tribe has not provided the Bethel regional office with meeting minutes to its IRA council meetings since July 10, 2010. Therefore the sustainable indicator 'The policy making body meets as required' could not be determined and is marked 'No'. A September 29, 2013 query of the Alaska Certified Water/Wastewater Operator Database indicated that both Akiachak's water plant operators have Water Distribution Provisional Certificates. The operators need to work toward obtaining level II water treatment certificates because the tribe's water treatment plant is a Class II treatment facility. At the time of this writing, the tribe has not provided information needed to re-evaluate RUBA indicators for this section.

 

Capacity Indicator: Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators:

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:

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.

Comment:

A September 29, 2013 query of the Alaska Certified Water/Wastewater Operator Database indicated that both Akiachak's water plant operators have Water Distribution Provisional Certificates. The operators need to work toward obtaining level II water treatment certificates because the tribe's water treatment plant is a Class II treatment facility. A preventative maintenance plan for Akiachak's water treatment plant is on file at the Bethel regional office. The facility has capacity to service seventy more residences. A copy of the tribe's 2012 Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) is electronically filed at the Bethel RUBA office. However, a certification form signed by a tribal official indicating the report was distributed and posted in the community has not been provided. The water plant is not on the July 2013 Significant Non-Complier'(SNC) list. At the time of this writing, the tribe has not provided information needed to re-evaluate RUBA indicators for this section.

RUBA Activities for the Coming Quarter:

Bethel staff is willing to work with Akiachak IRA's administrative staff to help the tribe with non-compliant RUBA indicators.