Quarterly Report: 2010, April - June (Q4), Platinum

Barbara Higgins  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Agreement Date:
Platinum Traditional Village 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Nine households and the public school are connected to a piped water system and operate private septic sewage systems. The remaining households, roughly eight, access water from public watering points and dispose of honeybucket waste in private seepage pits. The public water system distributes untreated water. A washeteria constructed in recent years is not in use but may be completed as early as summer 2008. A state Village Safe Water Water/Sewer and Solid Waste Feasibility Study was funded in FY 2003 to assess water, sewer and solid waste needs including a water storage tank, new water treatment plant, connections and plumbing, sludge disposal site, and landfill. The water/sewer system renovation project, with assistance from Village Safe Water, is in design and construction will start as early as summer 2009. The City operates the electric utility and landfill. Community fuel storage capacity is as follows: Arviq village corporation. (67,100 gals.); City Power Plant (5,600); Lower Kuskokwim Schools (7,000). 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Dillingham RUBA staff traveled to Platinum on May 18 and 19 to conduct a RUBA management assessment. The assessment was unable to be completed because the administrator was just returning to her job after many months of being ill. Mail and other thing are extremely backed up. A great deal of time was spent looking for documents only to find they were incomplete and undone. RUBA staff assisted the administrator in completing a few of the tasks. It was agreed that we would continue to work together on the assessment over the internet. There was a recent power surge that damaged a great deal of equipment in the office including the administrator's computer. A backup QuickBooks was available on another older computer that survived the surge. Information was provided about the city office that needs to be forwarded to the supervisor and managers. The city is writing checks that are insufficient to the tribe and corporation for fuel and rent. The power plant,owned and ran by the city, is almost out of fuel and no one in the community will sell fuel to the city due to the city's lack of funds. The tribal administrator stated that the city is in jeopardy of having to shut down the power plant due to lack of fuel. The mayor was not available to RUBA staff during the visit. The trip to conduct the RUBA management assessment was to be in coordination with the Village Safe Water Project Engineer's site visit however the engineer was weathered out and unable to make it to Platinum. We spoke by phone and it was questioned as to the whether or not the Traditional Council would pass an assessment. RUBA staff declined making presumptions on the assessment until all information was complied. The reason for the requested assessment was that Platinum received funding for a community sanitation project. On February 21, 2006 the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) awarded the Platinum Traditional Council a grant for the design and construction of water and sewer improvements. Funding remains in place to complete project design work; however the traditional council has been told that because of delays in meeting construction funding conditions, construction funds have been reallocated at this time. Platinum can re-apply for construction funds at a later date once the stipulations are achieved, which are to complete a Rural Utility Business Advisor assessment and adequately address any outstanding requirements relating to essential capacity. RUBA staff has been unsuccessful in contacting the tribal council by email or phone to continue work on a recent assessment. Continued work and travel needs to occur to assist the tribal council to meet the essential indicators.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA will continue offering assistance as the village council continues preparing for sanitation system improvements.
Essential Indicators:
9 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
16 of 27
Total Score:
25 of 54


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.
No 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.
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.
No YTD revenues are at a level equal to or above those budgeted.
No 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
RUBA staff was provided the budget from last year and was told it does not change from year to year. It was unclear by what process or procedures the provided budget was adopted if in fact it was. RUBA staff awaits receipt of a monthly financial report to confirm bills are being recorded and paid timely. In prior fiscal quarters, tribal staff provided consistent financial and operational reports to the council. There have been staffing changes in the bookkeeping department. It is unknown if the position has been reposted or if the postion is going to be filled. Staff reported fuel supplies are sufficient. The City of Platinum, a separate entity, operates the electric utility. In past quarters, staff used QuickBooks accounting software and generated some spreadsheet financial reports for bookkeeping. During this visit, RUBA staff discovered that updates had not been made since last year and bank statements were stacked up on a desk unopened for an undetermined amount of time. RUBA staff was unable to determine if regular meetings are being held.

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.
No An accounts receivable system is in place which tracks customers and reports past due accounts and amounts.
No An accounts payable system is in place.
No The payroll system correctly calculates payroll and keeps records.
No A cash receipt system is in place that records incoming money and how it was spent.
No 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.
No Monthly bank reconciliations have been completed for all utility accounts.
No 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 serves as the utility board and, in prior quarters, enforced the water/wastewater ordinance including a collections policy. RUBA staff continues to request confirmation that customer billing, collections, and policy enforcement are underway and consistent. Utility staff use QuickBooks accounting software for bookkeeping including utility billing, accounts payable, and payroll processing. The utility utilizes a written procurement policy that requires approval prior to purchase. RUBA staff continues to recommend that the utility staff reconcile bank accounts monthly.

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.
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
The utility uses QuickBooks and manual accounting systems to process payroll. On May 26, 2010 the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service reported that no recorded notice of federal tax lein was located but deemed the tribal council as non-compliant for not filing tax returns for the 4th quarter of 2009. On June 22, 2010, the Alaska Department of Labor Employment Security Division also deemed the Tribal Council non-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.
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
The Division of Worker's Compensation verified that a policy with Alaska National Insurance Company is effective through June 30, 2010. Tribal staff utilizes a comprehensive personnel policy and are presently reviewing its content to ensure it meets current standards. The policy includes a written evaluation and hiring process.

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.
No The utility has an adequately trained manager.
No 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 council actively sets utility policy through ordinance. RUBA continues to await confirmation from village council staff that the utility policies including collections are being enforced. The village council meets as required.

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.
No 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".
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
The utility has a trained water operator who also serves as the tribal administrator. In prior quarters the operator was seeking out an alternate operator to ensure continuity but it is unclear if an alternate has been hired. Utility staff utilizes a preventative maintenance plan that includes a checklist of operational requirements, an inventory control list, and critical spare parts list. The operator maintains contact with the Remote Maintenance Worker based in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region. The utility is listed on an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Significant Non-Complier (SNC) report for violations of the Total Coliform Rule. The last violation was in March 2010 for missed monthly bacti samples. The utility is unable to meet surface water treatment requirements with the current configuration. To return to compliance by September 2010, continued monitoring and reporting of monthly total coliform bacteria sample is required, install Surface Water treatment and begin monitoring and reporting required Surface Water treatment data, and a GWUDIS system with no filtration or disinfection equipment must be corrected. A Village Safe Water project is in progress to address the issue. The utility reported it submitted the 2009 Consumer Confidence Report. RUBA recommends safety meetings be held regularly.