Quarterly Report: 2013, January - March (Q3), Chenega

Jedediah Smith  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Agreement Date:
Native Village of Chenega 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
A surface water collection system with a dam, treatment, and storage capacity of 50,000 gallons, allows for piped distribution to all 25 homes in Chenega. Water treatment/storage improvements and groundwater well-source funds are being sought. Wastewater is piped to a 10,000 gallon community septic tank. Refuse collection services are provided.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On March 13-15, Anchorage RUBA staff traveled to Chenega Bay to conduct a RUBA assessment. RUBA staff met with the tribal administrator and staff during the visit and toured the water treatment plant. RUBA staff will draft the assessment and send a copy to the tribal office for a 10 day comment period before the assessment is finalized. RUBA staff will continue to work with the tribal staff to address the essential and sustainable indicators not being met. While preparing documents for the assessments of the utility, the administrator requested information regarding the Consumer Confidence Report. RUBA staff directed the admistrator to the EPA for a clear explanation of the report and included information of the Alaska Rural Water Association's free Consumer Confidence reprot assistance. RUBA staff included contact information for the Remote Maintenance Worker and will continue to assist the community as needed. Chenega Bay meets a number of essential and sustainable indicators and the tribal administrator is willing to provide mroe detailed information in areas where the requested information was either unclear or inadequate. One example of this is the aging summary of the accounts receivables detailing customer payments. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff plans to present the assessment findings to the utility board during the second quarter of 2013. RUBA staff will continue to provide any assistance as requested and will work with the community to fulfill indicators that are currently not being met.
Essential Indicators:
19 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
22 of 26
Total Score:
41 of 52


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.
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.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The utility manager presented a utility budget in which the revenues exceed expenditures by approximately $12,000. However, RUBA staff did not receive a budget vs. actual report. The manager said this report is given to the council, but RUBA staff were unable to confirm this. The utility is current on all electric bills. Since the Tribe operates the electric utility as well, this is essentially an interdepartmental transfer of funds. The utility has an adequate supply of fuel on hand. Chenega Tribe has the capacity to hold approximately 25,000 gallons of fuel. The current fuel delivery contractor has the capacity to deliver approximately 6,500 gallons, and the village receives fuel as needed, roughly every two months. As mentioned previously, the utility revenues exceed expenditures and therefore the utility is able to cover operating expenses. Water customer fees, both residential and commercial, nearly cover all expenses that are listed. However, the expense accounts are very generalized and it is somewhat unclear what the utility's actual expenses are. In addition, the utility receives an Indian Health Services grant of approximately $13,000. This funding essentially subsidizes water utility rates. The utility does not appear to have a Repair and Replacement account. RUBA staff recommends using extra water utility revenues to begin building an account to cover the replacement cost of the treatment plant as it ages out. The manager prepares and submits summary reports of activities to the council that serve as a manager's report. Since a recent council packet was unavailable and council minutes are not yet approved, RUBA staff could not confirm the process through which the council approves budget amendments for the utility.

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
The utility has a clearly stated collections policy. The utility bills customers on a monthly basis. The manager provided an aging summary with past due accounts. The aging summary submitted to RUBA staff suggests customers owe over $14,000 in past due billing. RUBA staff requested a budget vs. actual report from the Quickbooks file to verify the accounts received. Bookkeeping challenges in the past are being addressed and the administrator said the utility is working on a plan to deal with past due accounts. The budget spreadsheet provided to RUBA staff lists labor and materials costs by month. The administrator provided a chart of accounts listing coded categories. Most customers pay with a check or credit card but the office does accept cash payments and has a receipt book to record transactions. The operations manager, who works closely with the village administrator, manages the purchasing of equipment or replacement parts for the utility and all general maintenance for the village.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes 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
Payroll expenses are listed on the individual utility budget, but as of March 29, RUBA staff have not received tax clearance from the IRS. Without documentation from the IRS, the essential indicators may not be marked positive. Tax clearance from the Alaska Department of Labor dated March 15, 2013 has been granted.

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.
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
The Tribe's insurance is through Alaska National Insurance Company and the policy is valid through February 28, 2014. The policy is posted in the Tribal office. The Tribe's personnel policy is extensive, covering attendance, holidays, disciplinary action, travel and reimbursement, safety and health and employment records and hiring practices. Personnel folders are kept in a locked storage closet and files include I-9 forms, letters of acceptance, employment applications and job descriptions. The utility is willing to provide adequate training for employees. During the assessment visit, the power plant operator was in Seward receiving training at the Alaska Vocational Technical school. The water plant operator is currently studying material for the water distribution certification exam.

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.
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.
N/A The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
The Chenega IRA Tribe owns the water utility and RUBA staff was provided with a utility ordinance complete with a collections policy which they are not enforcing. The council meets approximately quarterly and notice of meetings is posted in the Tribal office and the post office. RUBA staff did not receive minutes to the previous council meetings and so was unable to confirm whether the policy making body follows the Open Meetings Act, however they are not required to do so as a Tribe. The policy making body is enforcing the utility policy. However, shutting off service for delinquent payment is not a particularly strong focus in the utility policy. The utility staff are adequately trained. The utility operator has a Level I provisional certification and is currently studying to take the distribution exam. The utility is outsourcing the bookkeeping functions to North Pacific Rim Housing Authority.

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.
Yes 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 water utility operator received his provisional certification, which will expire December 31, 2014. He works closely with the Remote Maintenance Worker and is familiar with the maintenance and operations manual developed by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. The utility has a safety manual and the utility operator checks in with other staff on a daily basis, though this was unconfirmed when RUBA staff visited the site. While the utility operator does not provide a written report to the administrator, the Chenega tribal operations manager works closely on all maintenance issues with the administrator and with the council to ensure information about maintenance issues is current. The utility has a Consumer Confidence Report and is current with all testing and is not on the Significant Non-Compliance list. As part of its operations manual, the utility maintains a critical spare parts list. However, it does not maintain an inventory control list of spare parts on hand.