Quarterly Report: 2012, January - March (Q3), Chistochina

Kathy Atkinson  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Agreement Date:
Cheesh-Na Tribe 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Almost half of residences have individual wells; the remainder hauls treated water from the Community Center. Some residents use individual septic tanks, but the majority have outhouses or pit privies. About 40% of homes are completely plumbed. The local landfill is closed pending clean-up and relocation to a new site. The community needs a washeteria and a new landfill. Electricity is provided out of Tok. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
The administrator reports that the tribal council has decided that the proposed facility is too large and too expensive to operate. The tribe will be planning for a smaller, less expensive facility with Village Safe Water and will delay adopting a utility ordinance and business plan until they have a better idea what the project will be. On May 20, 2011 new RUBA staff (Kathy Atkinson) was assigned to this community. In December, staff sent e-mails to the tribal administrator advising him the community was eligible to receive over $12,000 in additional FY12 Community Revenue Sharing (CRS) funds that were appropriated by the legislature. A phone message was left in January. On January 6, Chief Financial Officer Lorraine Radigan exchanged phone calls and e-mails with Anchorage LGS staff regarding the application for the CRS funds. She is holding a community meeting on Thursday, January 12, to ask community members how they want to appropriate the CRS funds. After the meeting, she will prepare and submit the tribe's application. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will follow up on development of a utility ordinance, utility budget, and preventative maintenance plan. Assistance will be provided by phone, fax, and e-mail as requested.
Essential Indicators:
18 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
13 of 27
Total Score:
31 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.
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.
No 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.
No A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The Cheesh'na Tribal Council has never operated or managed a utility. The majority of utility services are obtained from providers in Tok or Glennallen. Fuel is delivered on an as needed basis by Crowley or Fisher Fuel in Glennallen. There is no utility budget available to assess; however, the tribal council does adopt and maintain budgets for other operations including BIA Compacting funds, VBC lease funds for clinic, EPA IGAP, Summer Youth, community revenue sharing, capital improvement funds, and others. The fiscal year runs October through September each year. The tribe has adopted an operating budget totaling $1,186,718.

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.
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 Cheesh'na Tribal Council has not previously operated a utility. Policies and procedures will need to be adopted for the utility. The tribe uses Macintosh computers. Accounting has been done with Multi-Ledger by Check Mark software since 1990. Multi-Ledger is a full-feature software package with general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory, payroll, and job costing capabilities. The tribal administrator and chief financial officer reports they are not interested in changing software. The chart of accounts provided includes accounts for tracking cash, accounts receivable, fixed assets, payable, payroll taxes, accrued leave, loans, fund balances, revenue for each source of funds, salary expense, payroll taxes expense, advertising, supplies, contractual equipment, insurance, travel and utilities. Each different activity is assigned its own account number. The chart of accounts appears organized with revenue and expenses having a sub-category by function to allow for data selection. The only invoices issued are for office space rental by the Mt. Sanford Tribal Consortium in Gakona. Reconciliations are done monthly for bank accounts. The Cheesh'na Tribal Council uses a check request system. The administrator has authority to authorize purchases up to $5000. Any purchase over $5000 requires tribal council approval.

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.
No 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
IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service Fax from 11/2/10 states that the tribe is compliant with federal tax deposits and has no record of a lien. The tribe is not compliant with federal tax filing. The ESC statement dated 9/28/11 states the Cheesh'na Tribal Council has tax clearance through June 30, 2011. The tribe was sent the Authorization to Request Federal Tax Information on June 22, 23, 24 and 29. Other documentation was requested. On June 24, 2011, staff spoke to Justin Wilson, the new tribal administrator as of June 2011, who agreed to send the requested documentation. The President works on the Slope and is not always available. None of the requested documents were ever received. On September 20 and 30, 2011, RUBA staff sent the tribe the Authorization to Request Federal Tax Information forms for the president or vice-president to sign; other documentation was also requested. The signed forms were received by fax on October 5. Kathleen Morris, the administrative assistant, called and verified the fax was received. RUBA staff asked her to remind the tribal administrator the RUBA assessment can't be updated until the other documentation requested is received.

Personnel System

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
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
Workers compensation coverage is with Alaska National Insurance Company; the coverage is in effect from 10/1/2002 to 10/1/2012. The Cheesh'na Tribal Council exercises Indian Preference under US PL 93-638, Section 7(b) (25 USCA 450 (e) which gives preference for training and employment to members of the tribe before considering any other candidate. Jobs are advertised within the village for five working days prior to being advertised outside the community. Employees receive insurance benefits, accrue annual leave, and are entitled to 12 paid holidays each year. Sick leave is accrued at a rate of eight hours each month for full-time employees. Sick leave for part-time employees is pro-rated. The tribe has adopted a modified management by objectives approach to personnel evaluation. Employees are given an opportunity within the first three months of employment to develop written employment goals consistent with the tribe's and department objectives. A performance review will be done near the end of the second three months (or six months after start of employment). Thereafter, employee performance reviews will be conducted annually.

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.
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
The Cheesh'na Tribal Council is the only form of local government within the community. The tribal council meets quarterly as required by the tribal constitution and more often as the need arises. Council meetings are advertised and the public is welcome to attend. Provisions are included on every agenda for hearing public comments. The previous administrator was supervised by the Council President and was employed by the Cheesh'na Tribal Council since 1992; however, tribal administrator Jason Hoke left Chistochina in April, 2010. Justin Wilson has been the tribal administrator since June, 2011. The administrator is responsible for managing all day-to-day operations of the council. A part-time bookkeeper has been employed since 2001. A contract accountant visits Chistochina periodically to provide oversight to the bookkeeper and to make closing entries. The Cheesh'na Tribal Council has not adopted a utility ordinance but has adopted and enforces other policies such as personnel and follows the requirements of their tribal constitution.

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.
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.
No The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
In recent years, five individuals in Chistochina have received Small Water Systems Provisional Level I training and certification. Since there is no sanitation utility in place, no preventative maintenance plan has been adopted.