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

Roberta Eleazer  
DCRA Regional Office:
Anchorage regional office 
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Agreement Date:
Gulkana Village 
117 2013 Department of Labor Estimate 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Gulkana village has a new water treatment plant utilizing a MIEX treatment system. The system will reduce disinfection by-product (DBP) levels and allow the city to meet federal drinking water quality standards for DBPs. This is the second MIEX system in Alaska. The system has been in operation since July, 2013. The Gulkana Village Council is responsible for the management of local water and wastewater services which provide services to a total of forty-two customers. Solid waste disposal is available through the privately owned Glenallen Regional Landfill. There are three dumpsters in Gulkana which are emptied once per week 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
In April, RUBA staff traveled to Gulkana to attend a council meeting and to update the city’s RUBA assessment. The current rate schedule does not generate sufficient revenue from customer fees and the utility subsidizes the utility with community revenue sharing funds. RUBA staff discussed the need to improve collections. RUBA staff also provided sample deferred payment agreements and other documents important for collecting amounts due. In May, Gulkana Tribal Administrator reported the village council had unanimously voted to raise the current water/wastewater rates to the amount recommended by the RUBA water rate study. Additionally, the council approved the collection form and payroll deduction form. The council members voiced their support on the enforcement of the collection policy and shutting off delinquent households. The village council held their annual meeting on May 17 introducing the new rates, presenting the new forms, and publically stating that they would enforce the collection policy. Approximately 52 percent of the community attended and no questions or objections were raised. The administrator stated that inconsistent billing has been an issue, but recognizes the necessity of following the billing date publicized in the utility ordinance. the billing delays are due in part to the bookkeeper not having sufficient time to process statements timely; the administrator is therefore looking at innovative ways to reduce the bookkeeper's work load. In the June utility billings, the administrator sent a letter to each household outlying the new policies and the enforcement actions. She reported that as of June 17, numerous customers had signed payback agreements and many past due accounts had been paid. The administrator and council are very happy with the process used to introduce the rate increases and the outcome. Also this quarter, RUBA staff worked to ensure that the Gulkana Village council submitted its Community Revenue Sharing application before the June 1 deadline. RUBA staff received correspondence from ANTHC this quarter thanking them for the inquiry about the water treatment facility problems in Gulkana. The system is under warranty until August 2015 and the Gulkana administrator was concerned about the upcoming deadline. The problems with the system have increased expenses at the utility throughout the winter and are continuing into the spring. Gulkana village had to purchase water this month. ANTHC stated the design group was looking into solution for the problems and would provide additional information at a later date. They additionally stated that the email from RUBA addressing the Community concerns has centered attention on the urgency. On June 13, the Senior Engineer Project Manager reported that the problems with the Gulkana River Intake have been solved. The well screen will need to be cleaned every year and they recommended repeating the jetting operation this fall. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will continue to provide assistance to the Gulkana administrator and the tribal council necessary to ensure the effective management of sanitation services in the community.
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
27 of 27
Total Score:
53 of 53


Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.
Yes 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
Answer Question
Yes The utility is receiving revenues (user fees or other sources sufficient to cover operating expenses and Repair & Replacement (R) costs.
Yes YTD revenues are at a level equal to or above those budgeted.
Yes YTD expenditures are at a level equal to or below those budgeted.
Yes A monthly manager's report is prepared.
Yes Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
Gulkana is tracking revenue and expenses for the development of a balanced FY15 budget. As of July 1, monthly utility rates have been increased to meet expenses. The water rate study expense category included expenses for the repair and replacement account. Monthly report are prepared and presented to the council. The administrator meets with the utility operator weekly and reports to the council.

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.
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 village council adopted a utility ordinance that includes a collections policy in June 2000. Gulkana's collections policy is being enforced and numerous past due accounts have been collected. Utility bills are sent to residents every two months on a regular cycle. The new rate schedule is based on an 80 percent collection rate and a $100 residential rate. The community revenue fund currently subsidizes the utility at $20,000 per year, this amount will be reduced by 50 percent in the FY15 budget. Accounting systems are in place; Gulkana bookkeeping staff use QuickBooks and are confident in its use. Oversight and controls for purchases are well developed. Disbursement systems have council oversight with checks requiring two signatures. Decision making related to disbursement in excess of budgeted amounts is determined by the decision making body. There are no delinquent audits reported on the State of Alaska Division of Finance website.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has a system to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities.
Yes The utility is current on filing tax reports.
Yes 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 IRS granted tax clearance to the Gulkana Village Council on June 15, 2014. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development granted tax clearance on June 17, 2014. Gulkana is not listed on the March-April 2014 lien watch report.

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.
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.
Personnel System Comments
Gulkana tribal council has a current workers compensation policy through Alaska National Insurance Company.

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.
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.
Yes The utility has adopted the necessary ordinances (or rules and regulations) necessary to give it the authority to operate.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has adopted an organizational chart that reflects the current structure.
Yes The policy making body meets as required.
Yes The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
A utility ordinance was adopted by the tribal council in June 2000. The tribal council meets monthly, with an occasional exception based on council member availability due to travel and subsistence activity. The council is adequately involved in discussion and shared decision making related to utility management. The council is enforcing collections policies defined in the community's utility ordinance. The bookkeeper handles utility finances, and is well-qualified and organized. The tribal administrator serves the utility manager, handling day-to-day management decisions and relaying a monthly report from the operator to the council. The water utility operator currently functions as a manager in terms of directing operations and defining utility repair priorities; he does not manage utility finances. The water utility operator has received certification as Level 1 Provisional in both Water Treatment and Water Distribution, with certification expiring in December 2014. The introduction of a new water treatment plant will require technical orientation; the water operator has a solid relationship with the assigned Remote Maintenance Worker (RMW), and feels comfortable asking for guidance and training.

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.
Yes 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.
Yes 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.
Yes The utility maintains an inventory control list.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
Gulkana water treatment plant was removed from the SNC list in January 2014. The report stated that the system continued to exceed DPT's (TTHM/HAAS) RAA MCL's, system is in compliance with DBP Monitoring. Anchorage RUBA staff contacted Bernard Walker, ANTHC engineer, December 27 for an updated status of the new MIEX water system. Mr. Walker stated that a sanitary survey was completed by Josh Liles of ANTHC on 9/24/13 and submitted to Audrey Lammers on 10/21/13. The water plant was put fully online in mid-August. The DBP samples taken 8/29/13 were below the MCL’s for both HAA5 and TTHM. This was the first time in the history of Gulkana water that both MCL parameters were met. The utility manager makes weekly verbal reports to the tribal administrator about the safety of the facility. Safety materials are provided through annual audits from the workers' compensation program. A critical spare parts list and recommended preventive maintenance plan was provided to the community by ANTHC. Guidance and mentorship in the operation of the new water treatment system will be ongoing through the Remote Maintenance Worker program.