Quarterly Report: 2014, October - December (Q2), Gulkana

Roberta Eleazer  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Agreement Date:
Gulkana Village 
101 (2012 Alaska Department of Labor Estimate) 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Gulkana village has a new water treatment plant utilizing a MIEX system. The system will reduce DBP levels and allow the city to meet federal drinking water quality standards for DBPs. This is the second MIEX system in Alaska. The system has been in operation since July, 2013. The Gulkana Village Council is responsible for the management of local water and wastewater services which provide services to a total of forty-two customers. Solid waste disposal is available through the privately owned Glenallen Regional Landfill. There are three dumpsters in Gulkana which are emptied once per week 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
RUBA staff has provided on-site and telephone assistance throughout the quarter. In October, the Gulkana Tribal Administrator requested an example of a payroll deduction and residential repayment agreement form for water utilities. The example forms were emailed to the office the same day as the request. On November 18, 2013, RUBA staff traveled to Gulkana and attended the Gulkana Village Council meeting to present the utility rate study that RUBA staff had prepared. RUBA staff emphasized to the council that this study was done on proposed expenses as the system is new to rural Alaska. Expenses for this study were based on actual costs from the Saxman water utility, projected costs from: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) Senior Engineering Project Manager, ANTHC Utility Support Engineer and the ANTHC Gulkana Village Council Water & Sewer Utilities Business Plan (2006). RUBA staff committed to revising the study after the first year of operations using actual expenses. The council advocated for the necessity of educating the community on the need for increased utility rates and enforcement of a collection policy. The administrator stated that the tribal office would communicate a series of public service announcements (PSA’s) during the months of January-March educating the community about the new water utility. RUBA staff provided an article on water conservation for the December/January newsletter. RUBA staff spoke about the importance of informing the public about the proposed increases in the rates and the steps required for amending the utility ordinance. The amended ordinance would be introduced at the April meeting. It was proposed that the council could hold a public hearing at the annual meeting in May, which a large majority of the community attends and take comments. After discussion, the amended ordinance would be voted on at the June council meeting.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will continue to provide public service announcements and educational materials for the community newsletter. RUBA staff have suggested educational and awareness activities for youth, including 'Thirstin’s Wacky Water Adventures' a 12-page activity book including science facts, word puzzles, crossword puzzles, water trivia, and a student brainstorming activity identifying ways to keep drinking water clean. The youth meet three times a week at the community center for tutoring. RUBA also suggested two spring activities for the community: A walk/run for clean water and a spring garbage clean-up. RUBA will facilitate the development of a pamphlet that identifies conservation activities, who to contact for more information and complaints, information about the new treatment facility and a section on the proposed increase of the utility rates. This pamphlet would be delivered to the forty-two households and posted at the clinic and community center. Additionally RUBA would design five posters for the public buildings about the new facility. Gulkana has an Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (IGAP) coordinator to disseminate information and a monthly newsletter is published. RUBA will develop the materials and forward them to the community. The council has committed to determining the new utility rates according to the village economics. At the annual meeting in May, which a large majority of the community attends, the council will take public comments on the proposed rates. After discussion, the rate increase will be voted on at the June council meeting. RUBA staff will continue to provide assistance as requested.
Essential Indicators:
21 of 25
Sustainable Indicators:
13 of 24
Total Score:
34 of 49


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.
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.
N/A The utility is receiving revenues (user fees or other sources) sufficient to cover operating expenses.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
N/A The utility is receiving revenues (user fees or other sources sufficient to cover operating expenses and Repair & Replacement (R) costs.
N/A YTD revenues are at a level equal to or above those budgeted.
N/A 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
Gulkana is tracking revenue and expenses for the development of a balanced realistic budget next year. A business plan developed by ANTHC was provided to the council in 2006, however, actual costs for 2013 were not provided. Gulkana has an extremely competent administrator, utility operator and bookkeeper who are documenting monthly costs of chemicals and water testing for the new system. A water rate study was completed and presented to the tribal council. However, the study was done on proposed expenses. The water rate study expense category included expenses for the repair and replacement account which were provided by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in 2006. The costs of water testing and chemicals were estimated based on reports from the Saxman MIEX system.

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.
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
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. Utility bills are sent to residents every two months on a regular cycle. The council has acknowledged an increase in rates will be needed and are committed to enforcing the collection rate. 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 December 11, 2013. The Alaska Department of Labor granted tax clearance on December 20, 2013. Gulkana is not listed on the October lien watch report.

Personnel System

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes 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
Gulkana tribal council has a current workers compensation policy through Alaska National Insurance Co.

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.
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.
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
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.

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.
No The utility has completed and distributed its "Consumer Confidence Report".
No The utility is not on the "Significant Non-Complier" (SNC) list.
Yes The utility maintains an inventory control list.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
Gulkana water treatment plant was on the SNC list for October 2013. The report stated that the system continued to exceed DPT's (TTHM/HAAS) RAA MCL's, system is in compliance with DBP Monitoring. Anchorage RUBA staff contacted Bernard Walker, ANTHC engineer, December 27 for an updated status of the new MIEX water system. Mr. Walker stated that a sanitary survey was completed by Josh Liles of ANTHC on 9/24/13 and submitted to Audrey Lammers on 10/21/13. The water plant was put fully online in mid-August. The DBP samples taken 8/29/13 were below the MCL’s for both HAA5 and TTHM. This was the first time in the history of Gulkana water that both MCL parameters were met. It will take another couple of good sample sets before the RAA is below MCL however, he fully expect that to happen. Another set was taken in December but results aren’t available. From Mr. Walker’s perspective, the new water plant is producing safe, clean, good tasting water that meets all the ADEC requirements. A critical spare parts list and recommended preventive maintenance plan was 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.