Quarterly Report: 2012, January - March (Q3), Akiachak

Community:
Akiachak 
Staff:
Fred Broerman  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
Akiachak Native Community 
Population:
644  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
5/1/2012 
Community Sanitation Overview:
The Akiachak Native Community-IRA (ANC) operates the washeteria, water treatment plant, garbage collection, and the honey-bucket haul system. The ANC-IRA council is the policy making body for the utility. A new well, water tank, water treatment plant and a road to the new lagoon have been completed. Currently, 72 homes and the school and teacher's housing units are served by a piped water system. About half of the community residents are not on a piped system, and haul water from the community's watering point for twenty-five cents for twenty gallons. However, in winter the watering point freezes up and residents cut and melt ice or draw water from the Kuskokwim River. For ten dollars a month the tribe provides hopper haul for sewage of non piped customers which is deposited in their old lagoon. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Three of the IRA's administrative staff attended a RUBA sponsored Financial Management for Utility Managers training in Bethel from March 19-23, 2012. Correspondences were emailed to Akiachak Native Community- IRA on March 25, June 14, September 19, December 12 and 20, 2011, and March 16 and 22, 2012 requesting documents needed for verification of RUBA essential indicators. At the time of this writing the tribe has not provided requested information needed to re-evaluate many RUBA indicators. The community subsidizes its water and sewer 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 sewer system has been handled by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's (ANTHC) Billing Assistance Service which bills about seventy-five residential and commercial customers. On December 12, 2011 Bethel RUBA Staff and a manager from Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative (ARUC) participated in a teleconference initiated by Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Village Safe Water (VSW) with Akiachak Native Community's IRA council (IRA) and their administrative staff. The objective of the teleconference was to make sure Akiachak's leaders understood why construction on their piped water and waste water project had been delayed for the past two years and what the IRA needs to do to be eligible for future VSW funding. Construction delays have been largely due to the tribe not being in compliance with RUBA indicators. About half of Akiachak's one hundred and forty residences are not yet connected to the IRA's piped water and wastewater system, and haul water from the community's watering point and use honey buckets for their sewage. Akiachak's residents have brought the tribe's half completed water treatment system to the attention of federal and state elected officials. VSW's project engineer and program manager facilitated the teleconference. They gave a brief history of the community's water treatment project and explained the reason for the teleconference. In an April 12, 2010 correspondence to Akiachak's IRA, VSW had made ARUC membership a requirement for the tribe to be considered for future construction funding. ARUC's manager outlined obstacles the community had to overcome to be considered for membership in the utility management program. He also made it clear, that even if the tribe was accepted into ARUC membership, the IRA's back taxes would significantly hinder their compliance with RUBA indicators. The manager went on to tell tribal leaders that the IRA would have to 'open their books' to be considered for ARUC membership which the tribe has not done for RUBA assessments of August 31, 2007 and April 1, 2010 or for quarterly RUBA updates since. RUBA staff reminded the IRA and its administrative staff of Bethel regional office's attempts over the last two years to work with the tribe toward RUBA compliance and highlighted some the reasons the tribe wasn't meeting essential indicators. The IRA's administrative staff requested Bethel staff send them the LIEN WATCH: A Review of Small Community Liens, September-October 2011 which lists the tribe's federal liens along with contact information for the IRS agent assigned to them. Bethel staff emailed this information to the tribe immediately after the teleconference along with a link to IRA's on-line RUBA Status Report.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Bethel staff is willing to work with Akiachak IRA's administrative staff to help the tribe with non compliant RUBA Essential Indicators.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
15 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
12 of 27
Total Score:
27 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.
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
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 tribe has not provided the Bethel RUBA office with an adopted budget for FY2011 or FY 2012. 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. An April 2, 2012 phone conversation with Akiachak Limited (the community's electric utility) indicated that the IRA electric bills are past due $44,000. The community subsidizes its water and sewer operations through gaming proceeds. A March 30, 2012 query of the State of Alaska Gaming Permit data base indicates that the IRA does not have a 2012 gaming permit, nor has it had one since 1990, yet continues to hold gaming activities. This situation, along with significant unpaid federal payroll and gaming taxes from 2009 back to 2003, kept the tribe from receiving a bulk fuel loan from Alaska Energy Authority in 2010 and 2011. On September 19, 2011 Akiachak IRA received a State of Alaska Bridge Loan to pay for their fall bulk fuel delivery. They received 20,000 gallons of heating fuel on September 19, 2011 from Delta Western using a Bridge Loan for payment. The IRA's water treatment plant operator indicated that the delivery should be adequate to cover heating fuel for the winter 2011/2012. On September 16, 2011 the community ratified an assignment resolution that committed remaining FY 2012 CRS funds as well as FY 2013 CRS funds to paying off Bridge Loan obligations. An April 2, 2012 email correspondence from the Department of Commerce indicated that the tribe has significant unpaid balances on its 2010 and 2011 Bridge Loans and is 60 and 90 days past due on their payments. An April 2, 2012 phone conversation with Akiachak Bulk Fuel Tank Farm revealed that the IRA has an outstanding balance of over $59,567 for the tribe's share in the operational and maintenance, and renewal and replacement costs for the fuel facility. The IRA also has an outstanding waste heat bill of $14,919.62 with Akiachak Limited.

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 tribe's accounting is done with QuickBooks Pro and they operate on a calendar fiscal year. An example of the IRA's water and sewer billing statement as well as their collections policy have been provided and are on file at the Bethel regional office. Billing for Akiachak's piped water and sewer services has been handled by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's (ANTHC) Billing Assistance Service since May of 2010. A February 2012 financial summary from ANTHC indicates that the tribe's year-to-date collection rate is 57% for piped customers during the October 2011 to September 2012 fiscal year. The low collection rate indicates that the tribe is probably not enforcing its collection policy for its piped customers. An aging report has not been submitted to the Bethel regional office for the tribe's non-piped customers. Therefore, the Accounting Systems essential indicator that states: 'The utility has adopted a collection policy and actively follows it' had to be marked 'No'.

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
The tribe did not fill out and submit an Authorization to Request Federal Tax Information form to the Bethel RUBA office that was emailed to them on March 16 and 22, 2012. Therefore, it could not be determined if the tribe is current on its federal tax filings and payments for 2010 through 2012. However, the tribe has significant delinquent federal 941, 11C and 730 taxes and is listed on the January-February 2012 LIEN WATCH: A Review of Small Community Liens for tax years 2003-2009. As of this writing the tribe does not have a State of Alaska 2012 gaming permit and is not current on the fees owed to the Department of Revenue for gaming activities conducted without a permit from 2006 through 2011. A March 21, 2011 email correspondence from the State of Alaska's Department of Labor office in Anchorage indicates that the IRA is in compliance with their Employment Security Compensation payments.

Personnel System

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
No 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
A March 29, 2012 query done on the Department of Labor's Worker's Compensation employer database indicates that the tribal council does not have worker's compensation insurance for its employees. Quarterly checks on the tribe's workers compensation coverage have indicated that 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 had to be marked 'No'.

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
No The utility has adopted an organizational chart that reflects the current structure.
No The policy making body meets as required.
Yes The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
A February 2012 financial summary from ANTHC billing assistance program indicates that the tribe's year-to-date collection rate is 57% for piped water and sewer customers during the October 2011 to September 2012 fiscal year. The low collection rate indicates that the tribe is probably not enforcing its collection policy for its piped customers. An aging report has not been submitted to the Bethel regional office for the tribe's non-piped customers. Therefore, the Accounting Systems essential indicator that states: 'The policy making body enforces utility policy' had to be 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 of 2005 and contains and a utility organization chart on page 4. During this first quarter of 2011 the tribe's long time accountant and bookkeeper resigned. Besides a new accountant and bookkeeper, a new executive director and business manager have been hired. The IRA needs to provide a new organization chart with verification that it has been adopted by the tribal council. 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 has been marked 'No'. April 1, 2012 query of the State of Alaska's Certified Water/Wastewater Operator Database indicated that Akiachak's lead water and sewer operator has water treatment and water distribution provisional certificates which will expire on December 31, 2013. The tribe's assistant water and sewer operator has no certificates in the State's data base. Both operators should obtain a level II certificate for operating the community's Class II water treatment facility.

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.
No 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
An April 1, 2012 query of the State of Alaska's Certified Water/Wastewater Operator Database indicated that Akiachak's lead water and sewer operator has water treatment and water distribution provisional certificates which will expire on December 31, 2013. The tribe's assistant water and sewer operator has no certificates in the State's data base. Both operators need to obtain a level II certificate for operating the community's Class II water 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. Akiachak' water treatment plant's 2010 Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) and accompanying certification form indicating the CCR has been posted and distributed in the community was signed by a water plant operator on September 21, 2011. Both forms are electronically filed at the Bethel regional office. The water plant is not on the January 2012 Significant Non-Complier' (SNC) list.