Quarterly Report: 2010, October - December (Q2), Platinum

Community:
Platinum 
Staff:
Ralph Andrew  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Federally Recognized Tribe 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
Platinum Traditional Village 
Population:
35  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
2/22/2010 
Community Sanitation Overview:
Nine households and the public school are connected to a piped water system and operate private septic sewage systems. Nine households access water from a public watering points and operate private septic 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:
RUBA continues offering assistance to the Platinum Traditional Village Council as they work to resolve deficient RUBA Assessment indicators. The tribal administrator signed up for a RUBA-sponsored QuickBooks training course but due to poor weather conditions was unable to attend; future offerings in regions including Bethel remain an opportunity for participation. In prior quarters, village staff maintained satisfactory RUBA essential indicators but presently RUBA has not been able to confirm the status of multiple RUBA indicators, most related to finances. The Village Safe Water (VSW) engineer assigned to Platinum has maintained contact with RUBA and is monitoring RUBA indicators and also maintaining contact with the village council about the RUBA Assessment, a VSW sanitation grant condition. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA will continue offering assistance as the village council continues preparing for sanitation system improvements.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
20 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
17 of 27
Total Score:
37 of 53

Finances

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.
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
Staff provided RUBA a copy of the utility's calendar-year 2009 water/sewer budget that is balanced and realistic. Staff provided RUBA a copy of a monthly financial reports with year to date totals through September 30, 2009 showing year to date revenue trailing expenditures by over $12,000. RUBA awaits a November 2009 financial report, will continue to offer assistance with financial reporting, budgeting, collections, and will update this report periodically. Concerning electric bills, RUBA awaits receipt of an monthly financial report to confirm bills are being recorded and paid timely. In prior quarters, staff provided consistent financial and operational reports to the council. Staff reported fuel supplies are sufficient. The City of Platinum, a separate entity, operates electric power and reported sufficient fuel is on hand for the winter. Staff uses QuickBooks accounting software and some spreadsheet-based reports for bookkeeping. The tribal administrator presents operational and financial reports on the utility at monthly village council meetings.

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.
No 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 serves as the utility board and, in prior quarters, enforced the water/sewer ordinance including a collections policy. RUBA continues to request confirmation that customer billing, collections, and policy enforcement are underway and consistent. Staff use QuickBooks accounting software for bookkeeping including utility billing, accounts payable, and payroll processing. Staff utilize a written procurement policy that requires approval prior to purchase. RUBA continues to recommends staff reconcile all bank accounts monthly. The tribal administrator ensures budgeted funds are available prior to procurement.

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.
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
Staff use QuickBooks and manual accounting systems to process payroll. The village council bookkeeper has been employed in the role for several years and attended RUBA QuickBooks training in 2007. According to an IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service report dated October 5, 2009 the village council is meeting federal tax obligations, however, RUBA awaits permission from the council to confirm the present status of federal tax compliance and will update this report upon confirmation. On December 29, 2009 the Alaska Department of Labor Employment Security Division reported the council is meeting Alaska ESC tax obligations for the quarter ending September 30, 2009.

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
Staff provided RUBA with an employer's notice of insurance indicating workers' compensation insurance coverage through March 25, 2010. 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. Personnel recordkeeping improved in recent quarters at RUBA's recommendation including improved personnel folders. The utility provides training opportunities to staff including the bookkeeper. A newly hired administrative support staff person, according to the administrator, has interest in participating in future RUBA-sponsored training. Of note, the tribal administrator serves as the primary water operator and in recent quarters indicated concern that it was difficult to recruit for the alternate water operator position.

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
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 administrator also serves as the water operator and despite taking leave for personal reasons in recent months has, for the most part, kept administrative matters in order at the village council. An alternate water operator was employed in prior quarters and provided coverage when necessary. The bookkeeper is trained and experienced but could benefit from additional training. 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
A trained water operator is on staff 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. Staff utilizes a preventative maintenance plan that includes 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 dated November 2009 in a violation that reads as follows - SW: Unable to meet SW treatment requirements with current configuration; Install required SW treatment and begin monitoring and reporting required SW treatment data; GWUDIS system with no filtration or disinfection equipment; A VSW project is in progress to address the issue. The utility reported they timely submitted their 2008 Consumer Confidence Report; RUBA requests a copy from the village council. RUBA recommends safety meetings be held regularly.