Quarterly Report: 2011, October - December (Q2), Tununak

Fred Broerman  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Agreement Date:
Native Village of Tununak 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The Native Village of Tununak water and sewer department provides flush/haul water and sewer services to twenty-five residences and five commercial customers. Those living in the remaining 60 residences haul their drinking water and sewage by hand. TNK also operates and manages the community's landfill. The source of all potable water for the community is the BIA well. Water from this well is treated by the Lower Kuskokwim School District's plant and a public watering point is provided near the teacher housing building. The school district's sewage discharges to the village drainfield. Water use from the BIA was intended only for the school and teacher housing. However, since the community's water treatment plant has not provided drinkable water for over ten years, water from the BIA well provides all the community's potable water. Water drawn from Unnamed Creek and treated by TNK's water treatment plant is piped to nine watering points distributed throughout the community. However, this water is used only for the toilets at the Tununak Health Clinic and doing laundry. A flush/haul system began construction in 1992. The community has two sewage bunkers in the village that are still in use by 41 residential homes for disposing of honeybuckets. The bunkers are made of ditches and do not have a liners. Electricity is provided by Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC).  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
July 27-29, 2010 Bethel RUBA staff traveled to Tununak to conduct a RUBA management assessment for the community's IRA council. The village's only current potable water source is the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) well. The treatment plant for the well is operated by the Lower Kukokwim School District primarily to supply water to the Paul T. Albert Memorial School and teacher housing. The water treatment plant previously provided potable water for the community residents and businesses, but due to several Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list issues, the water is no longer deemed potable. Water drawn from Unnamed Creek and treated at the plant is piped to nine watering points distributed throughtout the community. The water is used only for toilets at the Tununak Health Clinic and for doing laundry. Currently TNK does provide drinking water and sewer haul services to customers on an as needed basis. Tribal employees use four-wheelers to transport drinking water via portable tanks from the BIA well to fill tanks at residents houses and businesses. Sewage is transported to underground tanks in similar manner. Preliminary review of the IRA's RUBA status indicates that becasue the tribe subsidizes their water and sewer department from outdie sources, TNK will be required to develop a budget that lists all the tribe's revenues and expenses for FY11. The community is eligible for construction funds for a flush tank and haul system. Bethel RUBA staff will renew efforts to monitor the utility service and offer assistance. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will assist the Tununak IRA at their request.
Essential Indicators:
18 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
10 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.
Yes 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
According to the IRA's Financial Management System Policies and Procedures, TNK's financial statements are audited annually by a Certified Public Accountant. TNK has hired Far North Accounting and accountant consultant Brad Cage to assist with the tribe's finances. TNK depends on gaming revenues to subsidize their water and sewer haul operations. Therefore all the tribe's finances need to be considered in this assessment. TNK did not provide a budget listing all the IRA's revenue and expenses for the FY10 budget or evidence that such budgets had been adopted by the tribal council. Bethel RUBA staff provided the tribe's administrative staff with an Excel spreadsheet containing a budget format and a budget resolution template so they have the tools needed to work toward meeting the budget essential indicators. Minutes of Tununak IRA Council's January 12, February 18, March 18, and May 6, 2010 meetings were provided. Each of the minute write-ups included one or two comments on the status of the water and sewer department. However, they contained no mention of the council reviewing monthly financial reports nor were financial reports provided to Bethel RUBA staff. The tribe's administrative assistant was briefed on the importance of providing the council with monthly financial reports at their meetings and this being documented in their minutes. Formats for monthly financial reports were provided by RUBA staff. During a July 29, 2010 phone conversation with Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC), Bethel RUBA staff verified that TNK was current in paying all six of their electric accounts. According to TNK's administrative assistant the IRA purchases approximately 5,000 gallons of stove oil a year from Tununrmiut Rinit Corporation (TRC). Approximately 3,000 to 4,000 gallons is used for the Public Health Service (PHS) facility which houses the community's washeteria and water treatment plant. A July 29, 2010 phone conversation with TRC's general manager indicated that they had received a shipment of fuel in July. TRC expected to receive another shipment in the fall of 2010 to top off their tanks, which he indicated should be enough to supply the community's needs for winter. TNK relies on Community Revenue Sharing funds for annual fuel purchases from TRC. Because TNK did not provide RUBA staff with an adopted budget or monthly financial reports all the Utility Finance sustainable indicators were marked 'No' regarding their compliance.

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.
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
TNK did not provide RUBA staff with a written collections policy stating the action the tribe would take if past due amounts are not received. The tribe's administrative assistant provided copies of their monthly statement bill and water and sewer overdue bill forms. An Excel spreadsheet titled 'master water sewer.xls' was also provided. The spreadsheet tracks customer balances, along with payment dates and receipt numbers as well as billing numbers and dates as far back as March 2006. Copies of two cash receipts for water and sewer bill payments in June of 2010 were provided. The tribe uses QuickBooks for payroll record keeping and tracking most of its expenditures and revenues. A chart of accounts was provided using the software. Water (120 gallons) and sewer haul rates are $25 for residential and $50 commercial customers. Reconciliations for the TNK's First National Bank Alaska 'Water and Sewer' checking account for March and April of 2010 and their Wells Fargo 'Business Cash Management Account Public Fund' checking account for March and April of 2010 were provided. These were reconciled with QuickBooks. TNK's administrative assistant provided a copy of Tununak IRA Council Check Request Form. This form is similar to a purchase order and requires approval by the tribal manager prior to purchases being made through the tribe's checking accounts. However, without an adopted budget and monthly financial reports detailing budget projections, to date spending, and remaining balances for their departments, it is hard to know how the tribal administrator determines if adequate funds are budgeted and available for purchases.

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
TNK uses QuickBooks software and is currently working with Far North Accounting and CPA Brad Cage to complete their annual audits. On August 16, 2010 Bethel RUBA staff contacted the Fairbanks office of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. They indicated that TNK was current in paying employment security taxes and had filed all required reports through the second quarter of 2010. However, their taxable wages were not calculated correctly for the fourth quarter of 2009 and needed further research. On August 8, 2010 Bethel RUBA office received correspondence from IRS indicating TNK was in compliance for federal taxes from January 2008 through July 2010. The most recent Lien Watch (May-June 2010) lists no liens for earlier periods.

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.
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.
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
An October 14, 2010 phone conversation with Liberty Northwest, the tribe's workers compensation carrier, indicated that TNK has coverage through September 1, 2011. TNK's policies manual, on file at the Bethel RUBA office, contains sections for recruiting and staffing; orientation and training and probationary employment period (90 days) that specify job training/oversight and evaluations. Only three position descriptions were provided (administrator, custodian and finance director), however the tribe's un-adopted organization chart shows nine employees. TNK provided blank personnel/payroll action and employee evaluation forms. However, two of TNK's employees indicated that their supervisor had not given them an annual written evaluation or a private discussion regarding their performance. TNK's policies manual does not outline the development of a job notice or the posting/advertising, application evaluation, selection of committee members and evaluation process; all of which should be included in a written hiring process. TNK's administrative assistant indicated that employee personnel folders do not contain federal I-9 forms or letters of acceptance. The water utility operator attended a small water systems training in Bethel in April of 2010. The tribal administrator will be attending a sustained compliance workshop in September of 2010.

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.
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.
No 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
TNK does not have an adopted water and sewer ordinance; a draft ordinance is on file at the Bethel RUBA office. TNK does have a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Tununak Traditional Council to 'Transfer the Administration of all Tununak Sanitation Services and to Lease all Sanitation-Related Property'. The MOA, also on file, was initiated on December 7, 2007 and ends in twenty years, with two additional five year extensions available. The community's water and sewer utility was originally owned by the City of Tununak. After the city was dissolved, the utility was turned over to Tununak Traditional Council which now leases it to TNK. TNK is in the process of attaining full ownership of the washeteria, water plant and sewer facilities. TNK's water and sewer ordinance has not been adopted; so they do not have an 'official' written collections policy. Customers are billed monthly. However, the tribal administrator said that customers are given a year's grace period to pay past due accounts. A blank billing statement and overdue bill notice were provided. TNK has an undated policies manual that specifies hiring practices. Minutes from past council meetings did not provide necessary detail to document that the policy making body is active in policy making for the utility. The tribal administrator has been working for the tribe in his position for over nine years. TNK also employs an administrative assistant and a bookkeeper that work with the payroll system, customer billings, accounts receivable and accounts payable. The accountant has worked in his position for nine years and the bookkeeper for ten. The administrative assistant was trained in accounting in a job corps program. The tribe has hired a financial consultant and an auditor who have been working closely with the IRA's administrative staff. TNK's water plant operator holds a Small Water System Treatment Certificate and TNK's water plant facility currently has the same classification. As stated earlier TNK has not adopted a water and sewer ordinance, however a draft ordinance is on file as well as a copy of TNK's MOA with Tununak Traditional Council. Bethel RUBA staff was not provided with an adopted organization chart for TNK. TNK is a tribal entity and not required to comply with the Alaska 'Open Meetings Act'. Meeting minutes were provided for January, February, March and May of 2010, but the tribal administrator indicated that council meetings are suspended during the summer months due to subsistence activities.

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.
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.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
TNK's operator has certification equivalent to the classification of service the IRA's treatment plant is operating, but their part-time operators are not certified. A preventative maintenance plan for the sanitation facilities was not available at the time of this writing. Minutes from four council meetings that were provided contained brief reports on the current status of the water and sewer facilities. No documentation was provided that the water and sewer utility held safety meetings. A safety manual for the utility was not provided. A Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) was not provided at the time of this writing. TNK's water treatment plant has been on the Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list for several years. The plant is not providing the community with potable water; nor is it operating at the service level originally proposed. Surface water violations will not be cleared up without significant upgrades to the water plant infrastructure or new construction. Coliform violations are due to intermittent water sampling due to freeze-ups from January to June 2010. An inventory control list was not provided at the time of this writing. A critical parts list was developed for TNK's water treatment plant by Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation's (YKHC) remote maintenance worker and field environmental health officer on August 17, 2010.