Quarterly Report: 2010, July - September (Q1), Tanana

Jeremy Johnson  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Water Systems 
Agreement Date:
Too-gha, Incorporated 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water and sewer utilities are operated by Too'gha, Inc., a non-profit utility board. Water is derived from a well near the Yukon River, and a watering point is available. In 1970, 55 individual wells were drilled, but due to permafrost and poor water quality, the project essentially failed. Most residents hauled their own water from the washateria and used privies and honeybuckets. In 1976, a piped water and sewer system was constructed to serve the Tanana Hospital, clinic, Regional Elders Residence, and the Tribal Council building. A new washateria and water treatment facility was constructed in 2001 and opened to the public in early 2002. As part of an on-going project, piped water/sewer service is currently available to approximately 58 customers including the school, four public facilities, several commercial units, and residential customers. The community is seeking additional funds to provide water/sewer services to residents not served by the existing water/sewer system. The landfill uses an incinerator, and provides recycling services. Tanana Power Company provides electricity. In November 2007 two wood burning boilers, to provide a supplemental source of heat, was installed at the water/sewer utility, although, there have not yet been used. Solar panels were recently installed on the roof of the washateria to provide a supplemental source of electrical power. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
RUBA activity this quarter with the utility has been phone and email contact with the bookkeeper and a State of Alaska Department of Education employee. The Department of Education was inquiring into the rates that the school pays for services. The school has financial shortfalls and is looking at ways to reduce costs. A rate increase was discussed at the July 6 board meeting and implimented shortly there after. Rates at the washateria remain the same. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Essential Indicators:
25 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
20 of 27
Total Score:
45 of 54


Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.
Yes The utility has adopted a balanced realistic budget.
Yes Monthly financial reports are prepared and submitted to the policy making board.
Yes 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.
Yes YTD revenues are at a level equal to or above those budgeted.
Yes 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
On September 15, 2009 the tribal clerk who manages the utility's finances provided an A/R and A/P aging summary, balance sheet, and a profit and loss budget vs. actual. Based on the meeting minutes it appears that the board is meeting sporadically, the most recent meetings were in May, July, and September. An annual member meeting on August 4, 2009 does not appear to have been held. The bookkeeper is able to provide quality financial reports to the board during the meetings. The board voted and approved a measure to increase the price for washers and dryers but when it came time to implement the new rate it was discovered that the cost to change the boards will be $581 per machine. Rates were increased for residential and commercial water and wastewater service, the utility hours of operation were reduced and so were some staff hours. The utility is able to pay (and has been paying) all of its bills with the exception of heating fuel. Heating fuel is both diesel and wood. The tribe has been purchasing fuel for the utility and Toogha slowly pays that debt but it is not in a financial position to be able to purchase fuel on its own or be able to pay the debt back in a reasonable manner. As with most rural utilities some type of assistance from either the city or tribe keeps them operational; this RUBA staff person is know aware of any self supporting rural utility. Other communities up and down river from Tanana dedicate some of their State of Alaska revenue sharing to the utility and typically apply it towards the cost of fuel. The most recent financial reports indicate that the utility is operating within budget. The budget indicates that $60,000 will be needed for fuel but only $17,000 has been spent, this is because the tribe has been buying fuel for the utility. The utility does not have the funds to buy fuel, doing so would cause it to operate at a loss and effect other RUBA Assessment criteria. A verbal report from the operator was provided at the meeting and his comments are included into the minutes.

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.
Yes 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
Based on the most recent board meeting minutes the utility is following its collection policy and disconnecting customers for non payment. Some customers are reconnecting the homes to water service and the utility wants to get large padlocks specifically for those customers. The meeting minutes state that the board would like an official policy to deal with this situation. RUBA has reviewed the existing Toogha Inc. Water and Sewer Rules and Regulations and determined they already have a policy to deal with this; RUBA staff will contact the utility to provide this. An accounts receivable system is in place and past due amounts are reportable; bills are mailed out monthly. Payroll is accurately calculated via QuickBooks and the accuracies are supported by both the IRS and DOL deeming the utility in compliance (see the following criteria). As is standard with the accounting program, incoming money and disbursements are accurately accounted for, the bookkeeper has a good chart of accounts in which to post transactions to.

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
The Alaska Department of Labor deem Too'gha to be compliant as of September 24. On September 28 the IRS deems the city compliant.

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.
Yes 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.
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.
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 utility has a personnel policy and procedures manual which RUBA has evaluated and a copy is on file in the Fairbanks office. Job descriptions have been in existence since the utility was created and copies are also on file. New employees receive orientation and, according to the personnel manual, evaluations are done annually. The water operators take advantage of training opportunities and are current on the certificates necessary for producing clean water.

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
No 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
After not meeting regularly it appears that the board is once again meeting and taking an active role in policy making. RUBA has copies of the last meeting minutes in May and July. While not consistent, it is an improvement. The board had voted on reducing operating costs, increasing user fees and reducing operator hours all of which indicate that the board is active. At the July board meeting it was voted and approved that board member Cliff Wiehl is to have oversight of Laundromat employees.

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".
Yes 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
The operator only has Water Distribution and Water Treatment Provisional Certificates; a phone conversation with a Remote Maintenance Worker indicates the need to have a fully certified operator.