Quarterly Report: 2014, July - September (Q1), Gulkana

Roberta Eleazer  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Agreement Date:
Gulkana Village 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water is derived from a well, treated and stored in a 100,000 gallon tank. A piped water and wastewater system serves most homes. A community wastewater tank treats wastewater. A number of residences also use individual wells and wastewater tanks. Construction of a new treatment plant (to address high DBPs, lead and copper) was approved on January 20, 2012. Construction of the new plant is complete but the plant is not yet operational according to the RMW. A master plan has been completed to examine connection of all homes to a new system. Permafrost and high water tables are problematic in this region.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On September 30, Anchorage RUBA staff traveled to Gulkana to attend the open house for the new water treatment facility. The open house was well attended by the community and State and ANTHC service providers. Following the open house, RUBA staff attended a tribal council meeting. During the council meeting the council posed excellent questions to the ARUC representative and RUBA staff about collection policies and certification of the utility operators. The major concern of the council is the development of a collection policy and enforcement of the policy for sustainability of the water treatment plant. The new system services less than fifty buildings and the current water and wastewater rate is $45 for elders, $60 for residential households, and $90 for commercial users. The community does not have a school. The administrator does not know the current collection rate and stated that only one household had previously been disconnected for lack of payments. In the past drinking water was provided to the village free of charge. The tribal administrator has asked RUBA staff for help in conducting a rate survey, setting up a collection policy, developing a water collection ordinance, and for RUBA staff to provide training to the council on running a sustainable system. Prior to the on-site, RUBA staff had telephone and email contact with the Gulkana Village Council Administrator regarding the management of the newly constructed water plant. RUBA staff and the RMW for the community have concerns about the cost of water testing for the new plant. RUBA staff offered assistance in ensuring administrative and financial capacity is in place and the utility able to absorb testing costs.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff plan to attend an open house for the newly operational water treatment plant. RUBA staff will continue to provide assistance as requested.
Essential Indicators:
4 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
0 of 27
Total Score:
4 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.
No A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
RUBA staff have not received a copy of the latest utility budget and financial reports.

Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility has adopted a collection policy and actively follows it.
No The utility bills customers on a regular basis.
No An accounts receivable system is in place which tracks customers and reports past due accounts and amounts.
No An accounts payable system is in place.
No The payroll system correctly calculates payroll and keeps records.
No A cash receipt system is in place that records incoming money and how it was spent.
No The utility has a cash disbursement system that records how money was spent.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
No 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
The village council adopted a utility ordinance that includes a collections policy in June 2000. Gulkana's collections policy has rarely been enforced; many customers are in arrears. The tribe has been considering using the billing support of Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), but is unsure if this will actually impact collection rates. The tribal council does not enforce disconnection of water service for non-payment of utility bills. Utility bills are sent to residents every two months on a regular cycle. Utility rates have not been adequately raised to compensate for increased fuel costs. 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 September 10, 2013. The Alaska Department of Labor granted tax clearance on September 23, 2013. Gulkana is not listed on the July-August lien watch report.

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.
No The utility provides training opportunities to staff as needed and available.
Personnel System Comments
The Gulkana Village Council hired a new administrator in April of 2013. As of September 27, 2013, Gulkana is not listed in the Division of Workers Compensation database verification search.

Organizational Management

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
No The utility has an adequately trained bookkeeper.
No The utility has an adequately trained operator or operators.
No 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.
No 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 has not enforced 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. RUBA staff encouraged tribal staff to continue support of the water operator's certification, most particularly with additional continuing education and documentation necessary to shift the provisional certification to a full Level 1 certification. It is also recommended that the community send a potential back-up operator to water treatment training and certification, so as to have two capable operators in the community. The current water treatment plant, while aging and wearing, is well cared for. The facility is organized and tidy and testing records are carefully kept. Creativity and ingenuity have enabled the operator and the prior tribal administrator to keep water operations functioning even as critical equipment has deteriorated.

Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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
No 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.
No The utility is operating at the level of service that was proposed.
No The operator provides status reports to the manager on a routine basis.
No 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 utility does not have a safety manual nor does utility staff hold safety meetings. The water operator was not able to provide RUBA staff with an inventory control list or a critical spare parts list. The new water treatment plant is now operational. A critical spare parts list and recommended preventive maintenance plan will be 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. Gulkana is listed on the Significant Non-compliance List.