Quarterly Report: 2014, April - June (Q4), Akiachak

Community:
Akiachak 
Staff:
Fred Broerman  
DCRA Regional Office:
Bethel regional office 
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
Yes 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
Akiachak Native Community 
Population:
675 2013 Department of Labor Estimate 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
4/1/2010 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
7/6/2014 
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 wastewater 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 & Activities This Qtr:
Correspondences were emailed to the tribal staff numerpus times over the last year and most recently on March 19, 2014, requesting documents needed for verification of RUBA essential indicators. At the time of this writing, the tribe has not provided information needed to re-evaluate many RUBA indicators. 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. Akiachak is unique in that the tribal government collects a 5% sales tax from vendors in the community. Two of the tribe's council members attended a RUBA sponsored Elected Officials training held in Bethel from January 27-31, 2014. From January 6-10, 2014, Bethel RUBA staff traveled to Akiachak to work on creating a FY14 draft budget/multi-month financial report spreadsheet for the IRA. Since the tribe had not provided a budget for RUBA for compliance for over four years, considerable time was spent with tribal staff in determining realistic numbers for a FY14 budget. Bethel staff met with the tribal administrator, business manager, bookkeeper and accountant to make a list of departments, enterprises, active grants and local revenue sources. Then during the week, Bethel RUBA staff worked with the business manager and the accountant to create budget estimates for the tribe’s departments and enterprises. The accountant was able to provide FY13 revenues and expenses for seven of tribe’s federal grants. These amounts were entered into the spreadsheet as a starting point for FY14 projections. One of the hurdles the tribe has to resolve is to acquire a State of Alaska gaming permit for their ongoing bingo and pull-tab activities. The tribe subsidizes its water and wastewater operations through gaming proceeds, but it has not held a State of Alaska Gaming permit since 1990 and continues to hold gaming activities. Bethel staff and the tribe’s administrator contacted Anchorage Department of Revenue, Tax-Gaming Group auditor a couple of times during the week for advice on filing for a 2014 permit. Gaming activities provide significant revenues for the tribe, which can be used to subsidize the water and wastewater utilities. Using QuickBooks records from FY13, the accountant projected the tribe’s gross income from gaming activities for FY14 to be over $700,000, with $400,000 to be paid out in winnings and the tribe clearing about $110,000.  
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 indicators.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
9 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
6 of 25
Total Score:
15 of 51

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 FY11, FY12, FY13 or FY14. From January 6-10, 2014, Bethel RUBA staff traveled to Akiachak to assist tribal administrative staff creating a FY14 draft budget/multi-month financial report spreadsheet. Since the tribe had not provided a budget for RUBA for compliance for over four years, considerable time was spent with tribal staff trying to come up with realistic numbers for a FY14 draft budget. Bethel staff met with the tribal administrator, business manager, bookkeeper and accountant to make a list of departments, enterprises, active grants and local revenue sources the tribe had. Then Bethel RUBA staff worked with the business manager and the accountant to come up with budget estimates for the tribe’s departments and enterprises. The accountant was able to provide FY13 revenues and expenses for seven of tribe’s federal grants. These amounts were entered into the spreadsheet as a starting point for FY14 projections. Bethel RUBA staff then provided written guidance and advised tribal staff to finish up work on the FY14 draft budget that was done during the visit and present it to the tribal council for review and adoption. However, as of the date of this writing an adopted FY14 budget has not been provided which is needed to evaluate essential and sustainable indicators of this section. Tribal council minutes were provided for meetings held on August 15, September 19 and October 17, 2013. However, accompanying monthly financial reports were not mentioned in the minutes. Council meeting minutes need to document or note that monthly financial reports were reviewed by council members to meet RUBA standards. The tribe has significant delinquent balances with Akiachak Limited (the community's electric company) and on State of Alaska DCRA 2012 and 2013 bulk fuel loans.

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.
No 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
Answer Question
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.
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 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. A January 2014 financial summary from ANTHC indicates that the tribe has a 100% year to date collection rate for piped customers for (federal) FY14. 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 several RUBA indicators for this section.

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.
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.
Tax Problems Comments
A March 18, 2014 fax correspondence from the IRS states that the tribe not current on its IRS form 730 filings and payments for its gaming operations. The tribe also has a significant delinquent balance for its federal 941 payroll taxes for the first quarter of 2011. The tribe has not had State of Alaska gaming permit since 2010, and is not current on annual state gaming activity fees. The IRA also has significant delinquent federal 941, 11C and 730 taxes for tax years 2003-2009 which are listed on the January-February 2014 LIEN WATCH: A Review of Small Community Liens.

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.
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.
Personnel System Comments
A December 17, 2013 phone conversation with the chief investigator for the Alaska Division of Workers' Compensation indicated that the tribe has workers' compensation insurance for its employees. 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. Two of the tribe's council members attended a RUBA sponsored Elected Officials training held in Bethel from January 27-31, 2014. At the time of this writing, the tribe has not provided information needed to evaluate the remaining RUBA sustainable indicators for this section.

Organizational Management

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
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
Answer Question
No The utility has adopted an organizational chart that reflects the current structure.
N/A The policy making body meets as required.
N/A The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
A January 2014 financial summary from ANTHC indicates that the tribe has a 100% year to date collection rate for piped customers for (federal) FY14. The high collection rates indicate that the tribe is 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 Organizational Management 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. However, an updated organization chart along with documentation that it has been adopted by the tribal council should be sent to the Bethel regional office. A March 24, 2014 query of the Alaska Certified Water/Wastewater Operator Database indicates that Akiachak's water plant operator has a Water Distribution Provisional Certificate. The operator needs to work toward obtaining level II water treatment certificate 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. The federally recognized tribe is not required to post and hold its meetings pursuant to the State of Alaska's Open Meetings Act.

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.
No 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
A March 24, 2014 query of the Alaska Certified Water/Wastewater Operator Database indicates that Akiachak's water plant operator has a Water Distribution Provisional Certificate. 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) and the certification form signed by the water plant operator on August 14, 2013 indicating the CCR has been distributed in the community are electronically filed at the Bethel Regional Office. The water plant is not on the January 2014 Significant Non-Complier'(SNC) list. At the time of this writing, the tribe has not provided information needed to re-evaluate RUBA sustainable indicators for this section.