Quarterly Report: 2014, October - December (Q2), Nelson Lagoon

Nelson Lagoon 
Glen Hamburg  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Aleutians East Borough 
Agreement Date:
Native Village of Nelson Lagoon 
45 (2012 Alaska Department of Labor Estimate) 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Nelson Lagoon is located on a narrow sand spit off the northern coast of the Alaska Peninsula about 580 miles southwest of Anchorage. Water is derived from a lake about 10 miles from the community and then treated. Water storage capacity is 850,000 gallons. All homes in Nelson Lagoon receive drinking water through a piped water system, but the community reports that this system needs major improvements, including repairs to the distribution infrastructure and a new storage tank. Individual wastewater systems enable households to have complete plumbing. Installation of a washeteria was completed in August 1999. There is no solid waste collection service, but a landfill is available for residents to deposit waste themselves. Construction on a new water intake and pumphouse is being planned. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
New RUBA staff began working with the community on December 2, 2013. On December 6, RUBA staff requested from the community authorization to receive federal tax clearance, though that authorization has not yet been granted. RUBA staff did however confirm on December 17 through the State's Department of Labor and Workforce Development that Nelson Lagoon Tribal Council is current in its state employment security (ESC) tax filings and deposits. This quarter RUBA staff also worked to determine appropriate operator certification and workers' compensation insurance coverage. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will continue to offer assistance to the community and request supporting documentation for its utility management assessment.
Essential Indicators:
15 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
11 of 27
Total Score:
26 of 53


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
RUBA staff has not received a current utility budget from Nelson Lagoon, nor any recent monthly financial reports submitted to the utility's policy-making body, and is therefore unable to confirm the financial status of the utility.

Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes 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.
No 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 utility does not send out bills to customers as each customer must pre-pay for water, wastewater, garbage, and electricity services through an AMPY system. Using the AMPY system also means that there are no outstanding accounts receivables. An accounts payable system is used by the local tribe, as well as a cash receipt system providing utility and customer receipts of every transaction from a log book. The chart of accounts for the local electrical co-op was received by RUBA staff and shows all bank accounts, receivables, assets, liabilities, equities and expense accounts for the electrical and water utilities. Bank accounts have not been fully reconciled. All financial decisions must go through the tribal administrator and are verbally reported to the council.

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
The utility has not provided RUBA staff with authorization to request federal tax information from the IRS; therefore, it is not possible to verify whether it is current in its federal tax filing and deposit requirements. However, the State’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development confirmed on December 17, 2013 that the Nelson Lagoon Tribal Council was current in its ESC tax filings and deposits. Nelson Lagoon is not listed on the September-October 2013 Lien Watch report.

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.
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.
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
There is no record of the utility holding a valid workers’ compensation insurance policy as of December 23, 2013. Nonetheless, the local tribe, which operates the sanitation utilities in Nelson Lagoon, has formally adopted personnel policies that address employment limitations, employee classification, and other essential personnel matters. Performance evaluations are not conducted annually. Employee personnel files are kept in a locked cabinet at the tribal office and include I-9 forms, job applications, and copies of relevant certifications acquired during tribal employment. There is no probationary period for tribal employees. Employee training is offered on an as-needed basis due to financial limitations, and final decisions regarding employee training are made by the tribal administrator.

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.
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
The Nelson Lagoon Traditional Council, which operates the community’s sanitation services, adopted the Nelson Lagoon Water System, Water Service Tariff on December 29, 2010. That schedule complies with the Alaska Regulatory Commission's requirements for operating a water utility. The tribe is active in making and enforcing the policies for the utility. The utility operator is considered the manager for the tribe and has certification in water treatment and distribution adequate for the utility. The bookkeeper has been to the QuickBooks training sponsored by the RUBA Program. Tribal staff are encouraged to seek training opportunities, but due to travel costs, trainings are at the discretion of the tribal administrator and council and are restricted by funding availability. There is no organizational chart, bylaws, or constitution as the tribe is recognized as a traditional council with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and is not required to have these in place. Meetings are posted at the tribal office, post office, and clinic three days prior to meetings. Without copies of an annual budget, monthly financial reports, or council meeting minutes, it is not possible to determine whether utility policy is being fully enforced.

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
Yes 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.
Yes 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.
Operation of Utility Comments
The State’s Department of Environmental Conservation recognizes two water operators in Nelson Lagoon. One is fully certified as of December 23, 2013 at in Level 1 Water Treatment and has provisional certification in water distribution. The other operator has provisional certification in water treatment and distribution. Those provisional certifications expire at the end of 2014, though the operator has already met the necessary renewal requirements. There are two operations and maintenance manuals for the water treatment plant and a new pumphouse manual will be provided when the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium completes the construction phase. The operator is trained in maintaining the pumphouse and water treatment plant and routinely spot checks both facilities. Safety meetings are not conducted by the tribe. There have been no major outages with the utility due to management practices and the utility is not listed on the October 2013 Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list. The level of service cannot be considered adequate to the facility and community needs without the utility having distributed its annual consumer confidence report (CCR) to its customers. There is no inventory control list or critical spare parts list for the utility.