Quarterly Report: 2013, July - September (Q1), Port Graham

Port Graham 
Michele Aranguiz  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Agreement Date:
Native Village of Port Graham 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Port Graham, a village of approximately 169 residents, is located at the southern end of the Kenai Peninsula. It is adjacent to Nanwalek, 7.5 miles southwest of Seldovia, and 28 air miles from Homer. Port Graham is accessible by small plane, ferry, and private boat. The Village of Port Graham is a traditional Alutiiq community with a fishing and subsistence lifestyle. Water is derived from a surface source and is treated and stored in a 150,000-gallon storage tank. Port Graham has a piped water system. Sixty-six homes and facilities are served by the system; almost 90% of households are fully plumbed. Port Graham Water Treatment System is classified as a Class 2 system, and incorporates coagulation, in-line static mixers, granular media filtration, liquid and powdered hypochlorites, and sludge discharge to a lagoon.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On August 8-10, Anchorage RUBA staff traveled to Port Graham to conduct an on-site RUBA assessment. The community met most of the Essential and Sustainable Indicators.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff is available to provide assistance for any of the capacity indicators that are not being met through on-site support and by providing training opportunities for utility management staff.
Essential Indicators:
25 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
23 of 27
Total Score:
48 of 53


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.
Yes The utility has on hand a year's adequate fuel supply or it has a financial plan to purchase an adequate supply.
Yes 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.
Yes Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The tribal council is the governing body of the utility, and meets as required. The community has a utility budget which separates utility enterprises from the general budget, allowing a clear financial picture of the utility services the city provides. Water utility rates do not cover operating expenses, although the community has resources allocated for subsidy of the water utility. Kenai Peninsula Revenue Sharing is allocated for fuel and electricity costs related to the water utility, as well as subsidizing water testing costs. Port Graham does not have a repair and maintenance account established for its water utility; water utility equipment replacement has never been substantial enough to require sizeable resource allocation. RUBA staff advised that the development of such an account would be best practice, while noting that the community has been able to access granting support for needed repairs and upgrades. The 2011 single audit notes that the council is dependent upon federal and state revenues to provide over 87% of total revenue. Potential reduction of federal or state grant funding could impair the community's ability to continue general government operations. RUBA encourages decreasing reliance on grant funding to subsidize the water and wastewater utility; a rate study to evaluate possible user fee increases and their implementation could engender increased financial self-sufficiency for the water utility. Financial reports are given to the tribal council monthly. The community also voluntarily produces a single audit report on a yearly basis, which provides detailed financial information to the governing body. The community operates on a calendar fiscal year. Primary grant revenue is provided by Community Revenue Sharing funds, and multiple additional grants are passed through Chugachmiut, the regional tribal consortium. These include BIA funds, ICWA, IMLS (library), Small Tribes, DOT, Rasmuson Foundation, IGAP, Elder Nutrition, IHS, Tribal Youth Program, and many more. The community has many active programs, with separate budgets and accounting. It is apparent while visiting Port Graham that social service and community livability programs have accumulated to produce a community in which people have access to many services. A considerable amount of activity and employment are generated through this array of grant-supported programming. Fuel is readily available, with purchases month to month or as needed. Port Graham Corporation owns the community fuel farm; the tribal administrator notes that the facility is well managed. Residents pay market rate for their heating and vehicle fuel. Electricity is provided by Homer Electric Association, and the community is current with payment.

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
Port Graham is carefully managed in terms of accounting systems, operating with multiple trained bookkeeping employees. The tribal administrator has held her position since 1976 and has 19 years of bookkeeping experience; two additional bookkeeping employees are responsible for payroll, accounts receivable and accounts payable. An innovative collections policy allows residents to pay down past-due bills by supplying fish to the elder program and to community potlucks or by working for the community on maintenance tasks, road work, or cleaning projects. Individual curb stops allow disconnection; over-due accounts receive notices and can be shut off for non-payment. The community uses the Fundware program through the North Pacific Rim Housing Authority, which provides oversight and IT support. Funding agencies utilize electronic deposits to consign grant monies to the community. Oversight and controls for purchases are developed. Decision making related to disbursement in excess of budgeted amounts is determined by the tribal administrator, in conjunction with the tribal president. Purchases over $5,000 are reviewed by the tribal council. A cash receipt system is in place, and only two employees have access to the safe. It is difficult for residents to cash checks as there are no banking facilities in the community; the tribal office cashes checks, but asks for payment on Water/Sewer balances as a cost of that service. Bank reconciliations are accomplished monthly by a professional contracted accountant.

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 Alaska Department of Labor (response dated September 24, 2012) reports tax clearance for the Village of Port Graham through June 30, 2012. A response to the request for Federal Tax Information was received 9/20/2012. It reports that Port Graham is in compliance with all federal employment filing and ederal tax deposit requirements. The IRS report states that no recorded tax lien against Port Graham has been located.

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.
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
Port Graham has workers compensation insurance with Traveler's Insurance Company to March 2013. The community's personnel policy (adopted in August 2010) is comprehensive. New hires have a ninety day probationary period. Job descriptions are maintained for all positions. Payroll advances are available, but may only be granted in the amount of wages already earned. The community offers 10 paid holidays to employees per year. Port Graham offers a defined contribution pension plan to qualified employees, a notable personnel practice in a small Alaskan community. Employees can qualify for the program after a year of service, and the council contributes eight percent of participating employees' yearly compensation. Seven employees participate in this plan. Individual personnel folders contain all required information, including I-9s, job applications, and personnel actions. These files are meticulously organized, locked and protected. Formal performance evaluations are done at the end of the 90 day probationary period, and then are performed annually. Employee evaluation is done verbally and then recorded in writing and included in the employee's personnel file. Personal leave is offered to both full and part-time employees, and an accrual schedule is published in the Personnel Policy and Procedure manual. The Personnel Policy and Procedure manual also includes provisions for grievance procedure, unpaid leave, children in the workplace, drug and alcohol policy, and recruitment guidelines. The tribal administrator has taken Human Resources (HR) training, as well as communication training, to strengthen her personnel management capabilities.

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
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 tribal council meets regularly and opens its meetings to the public. The council is adequately involved in discussion and shared decision making related to utility management. Council members are all listed on utility disconnection notices, in order to make clear their commitment to involvement in the collections process. As previously mentioned, the community's team of bookkeepers is well-qualified and have access to outside support through Chugachmiut and the North Pacific Rim Housing Authority. The general tone of the tribal office is one of humming efficiency - from the neatly organized notebooks of grant and financial paperwork to the multiple offices of bookkeepers and grant-funded project managers. The water utility operator was certified in both Water Treatment and Water Distribution, though these certifications have lapsed. He regularly interacts with the assigned Remote Maintenance Worker (RMW), who has visited on-site to assist with current distribution system issues. An unidentified leak necessitated a response; the community water operator turned off water to distinct portions of the community on different nights to detect the location of the leak. This detection project was well noticed, with signs posted in community buildings. The Port Graham Water and Wastewater Rules and Regulations document was adopted by resolution by the Village Council in 2007. It is comprehensive and clearly written.

Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
No The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The primary water utility operator received certification as Level 1 Provisional in Water Distribution and Water Treatment Level 1, although both certifications expired in December 2012; CEU requirements for renewal are not yet met. A secondary/back-up water operator is not certified, but has been trained on-site to cover for the primary operator in his absence. As the primary operator seldom leaves the community, the back-up operator noted that he found it difficult to remember procedure and required repeated orientation. In response to this difficulty, he has begun a project to photograph each step of the water treatment process, creating a PowerPoint that he can access on his portable computer when he needs to confirm steps in the treatment process. This is such an excellent and creative idea that RUBA staff has shared it with other communities in workshops, as an example of innovative problem solving. RUBA staff encourages city staff to provide support of the secondary water operators training and certification, as well as renewing the certifications of the primary operator. Neither operator is certified in Wastewater Distribution or Treatment. The primary water operator was engaged in trouble shooting an unidentified leak in the distribution system during the on-site RUBA visit; RUBA staff was able to tour the water treatment facility with the secondary operator. The Port Graham water treatment facility is markedly clean and well organized. The wastewater lagoon is fenced and protected. A copy of the Consumer Confidence Report was provided; as well as including it with monthly utility bills, it was posted in community buildings. Due to the unavailability of the primary water operator, it is unknown whether the utility has an inventory control or critical spare parts list. It is not known if the utility holds designated or documented safety meetings. These indicators can be adjusted if this documentation is provided. The community is not listed on the July 2012 Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list of water quality violations.