Quarterly Report: 2010, October - December (Q2), Nikolski

Julie Dirks  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Agreement Date:
Native Village of Nikolski 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The village of Nikolski is located on Nikolski Bay off the southwest end of Umnak Island about 900 air miles southwest of Anchorage. Archaeological evidence indicates that Nikolski village has been continuously occupied for at least the last 4000 years. Seventeen homes are connected to a piped water system and individual septic tanks. The septic tanks are leaking and plans are underway to replace the tanks and construct a new sewage solids disposal site for waste pumped from the tanks. An aged 30,000 gallon capacity wood stave water storage tank is leaking and needs replacement. The only treatment the water receives is chlorination. There is no landfill in Nikolski. Garbage is hauled to a dump site located on the beach near the village and burned a 55 gallon drum.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Anchorage RUBA staff traveled to Nikolski on June 22-25, 2009. A RUBA management assessment was completed and assistance with the FY09 and FY10 Community Revenue was provided. The Nikolski IRA Council provides all the utility services in the village including water, electric, cable TV, garbage haul, and fuel sales. In addition to revenues from utilities, the IRA Council holds a gaming permit with games operated by Gold Cache Bingo in Anchorage. Proceeds from this permit provide funds to subsidize public services to the community including water. The council is also able to sell fuel to residents at a reduced rate of $6.50 per gallon. Landed local cost of fuel is over $8/gallon. A sanitation master plan for Nikolski was completed and replacement of the water storage tank, a sewer system, and a new treatment system consisting of a three stage micro filtration system with water softening was identified as priority needs. The project was considered not to be feasible because of the high cost of operating the treatment system. The administrator reports that is would cost the village $40,000 a year without labor to operate the proposed system. She prefers the existing, aged system be replaced with a similar, simple to maintain and operate treatment method that the village can support. ICDBG and other non-VSW or ANTHC funding has been obtained complete some of the needed work. All bookkeeping, payroll tax reporting, gaming permit reporting, and other accounting functions are provided by a part-time contract bookkeeper based in Anchorage. Payments for water and electric are handled through the AMPY pre-pay system installed several years ago. The council does not approve a budget. The administrator does not believe their activities are complex enough to warrant requiring a budget. The council does not have personnel policies or job descriptions but the administrator said they were being developed. Aleutian Housing Authority was beginning work on a weatherization project for the 17 HUD homes in the village. Existing windows will be replaced and other work completed. Aleutian Housing Authority is also working on a grant funded project to replace home septic tanks and to construct a sewage solid waste disposal site. The Ugludax Lodge was receiving visitors for halibut fishing, bird watching, hiking and sight seeing. A tribal member reports that a grant will provide funds to build a fence to keep the wild horses and cattle out of the village area. The RUBA assessment started in the previous quarter was finalized and distributed to the community, VSW, RMW, and RUBA program manager. After several attempts to contact the village by phone, a written request for updated financial information and progress toward developing a utility budget, personnel policies and a preventative maintenance plan was sent by email and through the postal service. No response has been received as of 10/2/09.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Continue to contact the village to offer assistance. Recruit staff to attend an upcoming utility clerk training.
Essential Indicators:
20 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
8 of 27
Total Score:
28 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.
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
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 Native Village of Nikolski operates on a calendar fiscal year that runs January through December. Bookkeeping is performed by a contract bookkeeper based in Anchorage. Profit and loss statements for January to June 2009 show that $533,389 in revenues have been received with expenditures totaling $488,966. A balance sheet dated 6/30/09 shows that Nikolski has $444,399 deposited in various bank accounts. Accounts receivable for electric and other items are at $18,873. Total liabilities equal $155,185 and include amounts owed for a community building project, payroll taxes, and bulk fuel loans. As of June 30, 2009 the Native Village of Nikolski has retained earnings of $352,322. At this time the Native Village of Nikolski appears to be in sound financial condition and receives enough revenue to cover all operating expenses. No operating budgets approved by the tribal council are maintained. The administrator states that Council operations are simple and do not require a budget. An estimate of what it costs for labor and taxes for the utility is done and fees are charged accordingly. The utility has not had to purchase supplies for some time because there is a large inventory on the island. If parts are needed they are obtained from other funds. The Native Village of Nikolski owns a gaming permit that is operated by a major Anchorage bingo parlor. This generates revenue to provide public services and subsidize utility expenses. The tribal council receives a financial report from the bookkeeper every six months. An annual supply of fuel for the entire village is delivered to Nikolski once a year by Delta Western Fuel.

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.
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
QuickBooks Pro is used by the bookkeeper to maintain accounting records. The bookkeeper is responsible for maintaining accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, cash receipts, and disbursements. The administrator receives regular monthly reports from the bookkeeper and provides oversight. QuickBooks is set up to track revenue and expenditures by class. There are twelve classes. Water and sewer revenue and expenses each have their own class and are tracked separately from other operations. Accounts receivable for water is tracked separately from other receivables. The administrator initiates and approves all expenditures. The Council uses the AMPY pre-pay system to collect most residential water and electric fees. Non-AMPY customers are billed monthly by the bookkeeper with a Water Utility Invoice set up in QuickBooks.

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.
No 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 Internal Revenue Service reports that as of July 6, 2009 the Native Village of Nikolski is in compliance with filing payroll tax returns and making deposits. There are no liens against the tribe. The Native Village of Nikolski owes $1,078.92 in civil penalties for the period ending 12/2005. The Alaska Department of Labor reports that as of 9/24/09 all reports have been filed and all ESC taxes have been paid.

Personnel System

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility has a posted workers compensation insurance policy in effect.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
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 Nikolski IRA Council does not carry workers compensation coverage for employees. Contact information for an Anchorage insurance agent that has obtained insurance coverage for many tribal organizations has been provided to the administrator. The Council does not have personnel policies in effect. Example policies for small communities have been provided to the administrator and assistance with developing policies and job descriptions has been offered. The administrator reports that each employee completes a two page application, W4, and I9 when hired. A personnel folder was not available to document this.

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.
No The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
The Nikolski IRA Council is the locally recognized governing body of the community. There is no other form of local government in Nikolski. The organization is governed by a five member tribal council elected from tribal members enrolled to the Native Village of Nikolski. The Council employs an Administrator to manage day-to-day operations. The Administrator has a college degree and has attended a RUBA financial management workshop. The bookkeeper is a retired accountant whose only client is the Nikolski IRA Council. There is a trained water operator in Nikolski though certification needs to be renewed. There are several people trained in the community who can take over in the absence of the primary operator. The Nikolski IRA Council has adopted a utility ordinance.

Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility operator(s) are actively working towards necessary certification.
No 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.
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.
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.
No The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The primary operator certification has expired. The RMW for Nikolski is trying to obtain approval to administer the test locally so the operator does not have to travel to Anchorage. No preventative maintenance plan has been adopted for the existing water plant. The administrator reports that the plant is simple to operate and maintain. The administrator is also the utility manager. She receives regular verbal O and M reports from the operator. The water plant has not had any major problems or outages other than occasionally the supply in the tank goes low but never completely dry. The only other problem mentioned occurred when an earthquake broke water distribution pipes. Nikolski is on the Significant Non-Compliance (SNC) list for Total Coliform Bacti (TCR), Surface Water Treatment Rule (SWTR) and Disinfectant and Disinfection By-Product Rule (Stage 1).