Quarterly Report: 2008, October - December (Q2), Tanana

Jeremy Johnson  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Water Systems 
Agreement Date:
Too-gha, Incorporated 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water and sewer utilities are operated by Too'gha, Inc., a non-profit utility board. Water is derived from a well near the Yukon River, and a watering point is available. In 1970, 55 individual wells were drilled, but due to permafrost and poor water quality, the project essentially failed. Most residents hauled their own water from the washateria and used privies and honeybuckets. In 1976, a piped water and sewer system was constructed to serve the Tanana Hospital, clinic, Regional Elders Residence, and the Tribal Council building. A new washateria and water treatment facility was constructed in 2001 and opened to the public in early 2002. As part of an on-going project, piped water/sewer service is currently available to approximately 58 customers including the school, four public facilities, several commercial units, and residential customers. The community is seeking additional funds to provide water/sewer services to residents not served by the existing water/sewer system. The landfill uses an incinerator, and provides recycling services. Tanana Power Company provides electricity. In November 2007 two wood burning boilers, to provide a supplemental source of heat, was installed at the water/sewer utility. Solar panels were recently installed on the roof of the washateria to provide a supplemental source of electrical power. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Fairbanks RUBA staff made a site visit in November 2007 primarily to attend a Too'gha board meeting and listen to a presentation from Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative (ARUC); Too'gha is considering joining ARUC. Too'gha is also in process of applying to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA)for a Provisional Certificate. Important to note is that the Too'gha utility manager resigned on December 1, 2007 and the Tribe assumed some of his job duties, although, no specifics had been finalized at the board meeting. The Tanana water/sewer utility (Too'gha Inc.) currently does not meet all essential indicators. During this quarter, RUBA staff maintained phone and email contact with the city manager, the city clerk and the Too'gha administrative manager.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will monitor and assist as needed.
Essential Indicators:
18 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
16 of 27
Total Score:
34 of 54


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.
Yes 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.
Yes A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The utility operates on a federal fiscal year (October 1 through September 30.) The FY 08 budget has not yet been adopted: it is currently in the process of being developed. Based on verbal comments from the administrative manager, the utility should have a balanced budget, but until the budget is adopted and we receive a copy, we are unable to answer all the above indicators in the affirmative. During FY 07 the utility apparently received some subsidy from the City of Tanana and from the Tanana Tribal Council, to help pay for fuel and electrical expenses. It's anticipated that the installation of the wood burning boiler and of the solar panels will significantly reduce the operating costs for fuel and electricity and reduce or eliminate the need for future subsidies from the City or Tribe: the actual financial impact of the wood burning boiler and the solar panels remains to be seen.

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
On-site QuickBooks training provided earlier this year has certainly improved the accounting systems for the utility.

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.
Yes 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 states that the utility is current on filing its tax reports and payments. According to the Alaska Department of Labor, the utility has not filed its 2nd quarter 2007 report or submitted a payment for the 2nd quarter 2007.

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.
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
The utility has a personnel policy. Job descriptions should be updated. The utility has not performed employee evaluations.

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.
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.
Yes The policy making body meets as required.
Yes The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
The policy making body has been taking an active role in addressing management issues. The utility manager and bookkeeper resigned on December 1, 2007; the Tribe accepted responsibility for some of the duties but not all. At the November board meeting, the board agreed to allow the tribe to fulfill the function of departing manager, although, the tribe representative stated that some functions would not be assumed; when RUBA staff left no clear chain of command, expectations, or job duties has been agreed upon. RUBA staff is not familiar with the Tribe and cannot make any judgment on its professional capacity as an adequately trained manager or bookkeeper.

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.
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".
No The utility is not on the "Significant Non-Complier" (SNC) list.
No The utility maintains an inventory control list.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
Tanana is on the SNC list for a surface water and Stage 1 violations: the earliest it can return to compliance is July 2008. Phone conversation with Department of Environmental Conservation indicates that, recently, the turbidity looks good, as well as sampling, that October and November operator reports are good. The operator only has a Water Distribution and Water Treatment Provisional Certificate; phone conversation with a Remote Maintenance Worker indicates the need to have a fully certified operator.