Quarterly Report: 2013, January - March (Q3), Platinum

Barbara Higgins  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Agreement Date:
Platinum Traditional Village 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Platinum is a small community on the Bering Sea Coast in the Bethel Census Area. The Platinum Traditional Council operates a piped water system under Department of Conservation Water Permit #AK2271059. The system type is a well. The primary source of water is Ground Water Under the Direct Influence of Surface Water. The system is designated 'untreated' which means that no treatment chemicals are added to the water. There are 19 households in Platinum with a population of 61. Nine households and the public school are connected to the piped system and operate private wastewater systems. The remaining households access water from public watering points and dispose of honeybucket waste in private seepage pits. There are eight watering points though out the village. Village Safe Water has designed a new water plant for the community, however the feasibility of the plant would generate a cost per user greater than people could pay. Other funding is in place to connect five more homes to the piped system and install wastewater systems. Currently a study is underway to determine if the water is truly under the direct influence of surface water. Community fuel storage capacity is as follows: Arviq village corporation. (67,100 gals.); City Power Plant (20,000); Lower Kuskokwim Schools (7,000). 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Dillingham RUBA staff traveled to Platinum on March 11-14, 2013 to conduct a RUBA assessment. During the visit the traditional council held its monthly council meeting. On the agenda was a rate study completed by the administrator to raise the rates for the water/wastewater services. RUBA staff was able to assist the traditional council with information on how to present the increases to the community and the importance of conducting public hearings. The council decided to make the rate increases in increments until they reach the targeted break even rate. The utility had not raised its rates since 2003. The city has presented a resolution to its council supporting resuming operations and maintenance of the water/wastewater system. The city signed over this responsibility to the traditional council by resolution in 2003. The Village Safe Water (VSW) engineer advised RUBA that funds for the construction of the water plant have been pulled due to the project not being feasible. It was stated that the number of homes the plant would service would generate a cost per user greater than people could pay. Indian Health Service (IHS) will fund purchase of the pumper truck for septics and do some on-site work on non-HUD homes for septic and water hook ups. RUBA staff was informed that some of the original houses that were on the list for septics were deemed not eligible due to the homes being in the HUD program.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Based on this assessment, the traditional council needs to develope a work plan to deal with the problems. The work plan needs to be an effort to bring the community up to an acceptable management performance standard. Continued RUBA assistance to this community depends on the community meeting a baseline level of progress towards improvement. The Council needs to sign a RUBA Agreement that outlines the services this division will provide that stipulates the actions the traditional council must take and continue to provide in order to receive the continued RUBA assistance.
Essential Indicators:
19 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
18 of 27
Total Score:
37 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.
Yes 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 FY13 budget is the annual fiscal plan of the governing body to receive and spend utility funds. It was adopted in July 2012. The budget is not realistic or balanced as revenues are not listed in the budget; the budget is a representation of expenses only. User fees are charged and were identified and can be tracked separately from other revenue. The water/wastewater revenue is accounted for separately from other sources of revenues however not listed in the budget. Water/wastewater revenues are insufficient and a subsidy is required. The utility uses its savings interest and Community Developmental Quota revenue to subsidize utility revenues. Expenditures can be attributed to the water/wastewater service. The utility does not have a monthly financial report that compares year-to-date revenues and year-to-date expenditures to annual budgeted amounts. Meeting minutes do not document submittal of a financial report to the traditional council. The utilitys budget does identify electric expenses as a line item however, the electric utility does not bill the water/wastewater utility. The utility does not use fuel other than gas for the septic pumping. The corporation in town has an adequate supply. The collection rate of the utility rate payers is currently at 65% and there are not sufficient revenues to cover expenses. Repair and Replacement items are not listed on a schedule that shows their useful life. There is a line item in the budget for repair and replacement expense, however there is no indication that repair and replacement funds are actually being set aside and are accumulating as necessary. YTD revenues or expenditures are not documented to be level or equal to those budgeted in a monthly finance report. The monthly administrators report is verbal. The highlights of the report are recorded in the minutes. Budget amendments cannot be verified when revenue or expenditure categories significantly increase or decrease.

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.
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
Collection policy and procedures are in place and adhered to. The collection policy includes a statement of action that will be taken if past due amounts are not received. The utility actively follows the policy. Curb stops are maintained and utilized for nonpayment and services are disconnected for nonpayment. A copy of a monthly bill was provided and verified that it was sent according to the ordinance they have adopted. Bills are issued the same date monthly. The utility uses QuickBooks Pro. The system shows all customer balances and past due amounts and as well shows all vendors that money is owed to. Long term, or past due amounts are identified and reported. The payroll system correctly calculates payroll and keeps records. The data is correctly calculated and stored in a format that is used to generate the necessary reports. A cash receipt system is in place that records incoming money and what it was for. A receipt book is utilized along with entries into the QuickBooks accounting system. All payments are made by check. Every check includes an amount, an expense account, and a description of what the payment is for. The date for every check written is recorded in the check register in QuickBooks. Copies of paid invoices are kept in the vendor file. A chart of accounts is used that identifies categories in a reasonable, usable manner. The chart of accounts lists categories of revenues and expenditures; all of the utilitys financial transactions are placed in one of these categories. The categories are based on the utility budget so the utility expenditures and revenues are comparable to the amounts budgeted. Monthly bank econciliations have been completed manually for the utility account and are not documented in QuickBooks. The utility has a purchasing system that requires approval prior to purchase from the council. There did not appear to be a system that checked to ensure that there are adequate funds budgeted and remaining in the budget prior to purchase of an item.

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 utility uses QuickBooks Pro to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities. A report from the IRS on March 20, 2013 shows the taxpayer has been deemed compliant with federal employment and or excise tax filing and deposit requirements. The State Department of Labor (DOL) on March 15, 2013 grants tax clearance to the taxpayer for the period ending December 31, 2012. There is no record or notice of Federal tax liens against the tax payer.

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.
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
The utility has a posted workers compensation insurance policy in the village office. According to the Notice of Insurance, workers compensation insurance is provided by the Alaska National Insurance Company. However a March 15, 2013 check of the Division of Workers Compensation website did not confirm that the policy was in effect. A copy of the utilitys personnel policies, adopted August 1995, is on file with RUBA staff. Job descriptions are up to date and expressly outline each employee's required duties. RUBA staff has copies of the job descriptions on file. The traditional council does have a written evaluation process. The hiring process is described in the utility's personnel policies adopted August 1995, a copy of the policy is on file with RUBA staff. Personnel folders are current and available for all employees. The probationary period or introductory period for new hires is at least ninety (90) days, as described in the personnel policy. New hires are evaluated at the end of the probationary period. The utility budget includes an appropriation of $1,345 for staff training.

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.
No 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
The utility ordinance identifies the village as the operator of the utility. Council meeting minutes confirmed that the council reviews policies and rates on an annual basis and makes changes as needed. Meeting minutes for the past three months confirm that the utility takes an active role in enforcing utility policy. The administrator develops and oversees the utility budget, is also the utility operator and provides monthly reports to the governing body. The administrator has over ten years experience on the job. She has attended two of the RUBA utility trainings. The bookkeeper is trained and has attended the RUBA QuickBooks class. The utility is a Small Water System/Untreated. According to the ADEC website, the utility has an operator that does not have a current certification for this system. The village council adopted a utility ordinance in August 2007. RUBA staff has a copy of the signed ordinance on file. The village council has an organizational chart that is updated as needed. The copy of the organizational chart is on file. Regular council meetings are held once a month; special meeting are held as needed. All meetings for the current quarter have been held as scheduled. The meeting files and minutes confirm the meetings are held as scheduled.

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.
No The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
According to the ADEC website, the facility is a Small Water System that is untreated. The primary operator has a Small Untreated- certification that expired December 31, 2012 and does not have the required number of CEU's to maintain certification. She is scheduled to attend a class in the Bethel Region that will provide recertification. The manager is the operator of the system. The utility has a preventative maintenance plan that was developed by the Remote Maintenance Worker. A copy of this was viewed by RUBA. The operator reports using a checklist to verify that preventive maintenance is performed. The administrator checks the utility on a routine basis. The utility has a safety manual on file. There is no evidence that the operator participates in monthly safety meetings. RUBA staff has the certificate that a copy of the 2012 CCR was filed. According to the utility clerk the last CCR was mailed to all residents in June of 2012. The utility does not have an inventory control list. The utility does not have a critical spare parts list on file. To prevent unnecessary outages, critical spare parts are reported to be requested from the remote maintenance worker when needed, a spare pump was observed by RUBA staff and kept as stock at the utility. The utility is found on the SNC list for : Inadequate treatment and failure to filter (SWTR). The utility failed to sample for Lead and Copper. To return to compliance the utility has to: Install required SW treatment and begin monitoring and reporting required SW treatment data and complete sampling for Lead and Copper. The known hardware problems are: the system has no filtration or disinfection equipment. As of December 2012, an Engineering company is looking at an approach different from installing chlorine disinfection, but rather reevaluating the wells as ground water under the influence of surface water to show the wells are not under the influence of surface water.