Quarterly Report: 2009, January - March (Q3), 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, although, there have not yet been used. 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 to Tanana at the end of January 2009 to assist the utility in preparing a budget and review the RUBA report. RUBA staff attended a Too'gha board meeting and urged the utility to adopt a budget. Too'gha's prior budget ended in a deficit and their new fiscal year began October 1 without adopting a new budget. Two major budget areas needing corrections are the budgeted fuel and wage line items. RUBA staff encouraged the board to investigate purchasing a programmable thermostat that will automatically change the tempature by date and hour within the washeteria, as a three degree reduction equals a 9% savings. The board may also consider reducing hours and increasing user fees for water/wastewater services and the washeteria. Too'gha balanced the previous budget by requesting funds from the tribe and city. RUBA recommended that Too'gha request the anticipated deficit at the start of the year instead of operating in a negative budget cycle. The board decided to create a new budget, anticipate the financial shortfall, and request the amount in advance from the city and tribe. The board felt that savings can be had by implementing a number of actions discussed; increase user fees, reduce wages, and reduce heating costs. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff offered assistance to the tribal bookkeeper to review and work on the proposed budget.
Essential Indicators:
17 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
16 of 27
Total Score:
33 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.
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 new FY budget has not been passed and Toogha began the fiscal year $33,000 in debt. At the end of the last fiscal year, revenue was down $2933 from what was budgeted and expenses were $33,209 more than budgeted. RUBA staff made a site visit in January to assist in creating a budget but the utility board chose not to spend the time together to work on it, instead the Tanana Tribal President stated that he and the tribal bookkeeper will create a draft budget to present to the board. The tribal president has now resigned and left the state; a budget has not yet been created. The utility is able to sustain operations with financial assistance from both the city and the tribe but that assistance was not obtained last year and the new fiscal year started without the money necessary for operations. The tribal bookkeeper stated that she would create a tentative budget to present to the board. The utility has not been meeting regularly; the last meeting was when RUBA visited in January.

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
Accounting functions have been taken over by an employee of the Tanana Tribe who uses QuickBooks. A collection policy is in effect but RUBA is unable to determine if the utility is actively following it. This is due to two factors, there is no utility manager to enforce the policy and the board has not been meeting regularly and, as such, would be unable to enforce it. Should the board be enforcing the policy, RUBA would need to be able to show that outstanding customers payments are being paid down or that disconnection notices are sent and customers are being disconnected from service. An accounts receivable system is in place and past due amounts are reportable; bills are mailed out monthly. Payroll is accurately calculated via QuickBooks and the accuracies are supported by both the IRS and DOL deeming the utility in compliance (see the following criteria). As is standard with the accounting program, incoming money and disbursements are accurately accounted for, the bookkeeper has a good chart of accounts in which to post transactions to.

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.
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 and Alaska Department of Labor deem Too'gha to be compliant.

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.
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 and procedures manual which RUBA has evaluated and a copy is on file in the Fairbanks office. Job descriptions have been in existence since the utility was created and copies are also on file. New employees receive orientation and, according to the personnel manual, evaluations are done annually. The water operators take advantage of training opportunities and are current on the certificates necessary for producing clean water.

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.
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 utility board has not been meeting on a regular basis and is not active in enforcing utility policy. The utility does not have a manager or an individual who fulfills the managerial duties.

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".
Yes 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
The operator only has Water Distribution and Water Treatment Provisional Certificates; a phone conversation with a Remote Maintenance Worker indicates the need to have a fully certified operator.