Quarterly Report: 2014, April - June (Q4), Nelson Lagoon

Community:
Nelson Lagoon 
Staff:
Glen Hamburg  
DCRA Regional Office:
Anchorage regional office 
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Borough:
Aleutians East Borough 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
Native Village of Nelson Lagoon 
Population:
45 2013 Department of Labor Estimate 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
12/9/2011 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
6/17/2014 
Community Sanitation Overview:
Nelson Lagoon is located on a narrow sand spit off the northern coast of the Alaska Peninsula about 580 miles southwest of Anchorage. Water is derived from a lake about 10 miles from the community and then treated. Water storage capacity is 850,000 gallons. All homes in Nelson Lagoon receive drinking water through a piped water system, but the community reports that this system needs major improvements, including repairs to the distribution infrastructure and a new storage tank. Individual wastewater systems enable households to have complete plumbing. Installation of a washeteria was completed in August 1999. There is no solid waste collection service, but a landfill is available for residents to deposit waste themselves.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
RUBA staff has made numerous attempts to contact the community by letter, phone, and email to offer utility management assistance; however, no response was received. RUBA staff was able this quarter to independently verify that the utility is current with its ESC tax obligations, that it has a valid workers' compensation insurance policy in effect, and that it is not listed on the most recent Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will again contact the community, offering to conduct a utility management assessment as a step toward sanitation project grant funding eligibility.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
2 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
2 of 27
Total Score:
4 of 53

Finances

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
RUBA staff has not received a current utility budget from Nelson Lagoon, nor any recent monthly financial reports submitted to the utility's policy-making body, and is therefore unable to confirm the financial status of the utility.

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
Because RUBA staff has not been provided up-to-date information about Nelson Lagoon’s accounting systems, all indicators in this section have been marked ‘No.” Previously, it was reported that the utility does not send out bills to customers as each customer must pre-pay for water, wastewater, garbage, and electricity services through an AMPY system. Using the AMPY system also meant that there are no outstanding accounts receivables. An accounts payable system was used by the local tribe, as well as a cash receipt system providing utility and customer receipts of every transaction from a log book. The chart of accounts for the local electrical co-op had been received by RUBA staff earlier and showed all bank accounts, receivables, assets, liabilities, equities and expense accounts for the electrical and water utilities. In the past, all financial decisions had to go through the tribal administrator and were verbally reported to the council.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility has a system to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities.
No The utility is current on filing tax reports.
No 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
RUBA staff does not have current information about Nelson Lagoon's payroll tax tracking processes. The utility has not provided RUBA staff with authorization to request federal tax information from the IRS; therefore, it is not possible to verify whether it is current in its federal tax filing and deposit requirements. However, the State’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development confirmed on June 13, 2014 that the Nelson Lagoon Tribal Council is current in its ESC tax filings and deposits. Nelson Lagoon is also not listed on the March-April 2014 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
According to the State's Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the utility has a valid workers' compensation insurance policy as of June 17, 2014; however, it is not clear whether proof of coverage is posted as required by law. The local tribe, which operates the sanitation utilities in Nelson Lagoon, reports to have adopted personnel policies addressing employment limitations, employee classification, and other essential personnel matters. However, there is no indication those policies are still actively enforced. RUBA staff does not have evidence that performance evaluations are conducted annually, that a probationary period is used, that personnel files contain all necessary documents, or that there are opportunities for utility staff to receive 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.
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
The Nelson Lagoon Traditional Council, which operates the community’s sanitation services, adopted the Nelson Lagoon Water System, Water Service Tariff on December 29, 2010. That schedule complies with the Alaska Regulatory Commission's requirements for operating a water utility. RUBA staff has not received copies of tribal council meeting minutes or other documents demonstrating that it is still active in making and enforcing utility policy. RUBA staff does not have up-to-date information about the training level of utility employees, nor any record of an adopted utility organizational chart or other governing documents. RUBA staff does not have current evidence that council meetings are advertised.

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
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.
Yes 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".
Yes 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 State’s Department of Environmental Conservation recognizes two water operators in Nelson Lagoon. One is fully certified as of March 11, 2014 at in Level 1 Water Treatment and has provisional certification in water distribution. The other operator has provisional certification in water treatment and distribution. Those provisional certifications expire at the end of 2014, though the operator has already met the necessary renewal requirements. There had been two operations and maintenance manuals for the water treatment plant and a new pumphouse manual was to be provided by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium; however, RUBA staff has not been able to verify recently that those manuals are still on hand. The operator is trained in maintaining the pumphouse and water treatment plant and routinely spot checks both facilities. Safety meetings are not conducted by the tribe. There have been no major outages with the utility due to management practices and the utility is not listed on the April 2014 Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list. The level of service cannot be considered adequate to the facility and community needs without the utility having distributed its annual consumer confidence report (CCR) to its customers. There is no inventory control list or critical spare parts list for the utility.