Quarterly Report: 2007, July - September (Q1), Goodnews Bay

Community:
Goodnews Bay 
Staff:
Ralph Andrew  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Goodnews Bay 
Population:
238  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
11/29/2006 
Community Sanitation Overview:
The Native Village of Goodnews Bay operates a washeteria central watering point, provides for honeybucket haul, and has a sewage lagoon. The tribe, the policy making body for the utility, assumed water/sewer utility management in August 2005. Currently, treated well water is hauled from the watering point at the washeteria/clinic facility. Most homes are currently not plumbed. A piped water and gravity sewer system with plumbing for 70 + homes is under construction. The project funding will plumb homes including installation of fixtures. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
The Goodnews Bay village council made efforts to strengthen water/sewer utility management throughout the quarter. However, deficient RUBA Assessment indicators and growing debt placed the community's Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC)water/sewer project at risk of delay due to unsatisfied grant conditions. Utility staff made efforts throughout the quarter to pay delinquent payroll taxes, Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) electric bills, among other debt. RUBA traveled to Goodnews Bay on September 14 and 15, 2006 to provide technical assistance with deficient RUBA Assessment indicators. Most of the deficient indicators remain unresolved including a lack of a budget and growing debt. The village council continues fundraising efforts and at RUBA's suggestion, is working with the IRS on a debt repayment plan. The City of Goodnews Bay expressed interest in supporting the tribe's efforts to pay off some of the utility's existing debt including AVEC and as a result the laundry and water treatment plant may be able to avoid disconnection. Late in the quarter the village administrator reduced utility staffing hours to essential functions in an effort to allocate more funding to the repayment of debt. Notably, the village council opted to participate in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation-managed Rural Utility Cooperative (RUC) program and anticipates RUC will assume management on or near October 1, 2006. The village council's participation in the RUC may facilitate resolution of certain RUBA Assessment indicators and help keep the ANTHC-led project on track. According to RUC management, RUC agreement would become final upon approval of an ordinance by RCA and final approval by YKHC. As a condition of participation, RUC required water/sewer customers pay a 12-month advance for honey-bucket haul fees at a rate of $40/month. Most cusomters appeared willing and able to submit payment. Also notable, YKHC is expected to assume Goodnews Bay's Remote Maintenance Worker services from the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation. RUBA will continue assessing RUBA Assessment indicators and will continue work with the village upon request. Concerning the sanitation project business plan, ANTHC is awaiting finalization of the RUC management agreement as it may impact utility operating costs. Concerning utility staffing, the primary water operator position is again filled by a certified operator. RUBA continues assembling a RUBA Work Plan with the administrator to help facilitate resolution of deficient Assessment indicators. In city matters, the city hired a full time administrator but it is unclear as to when he will start in the role. A temporary administrator helping with essential accounting functions prepared budgets and financial reports in hopes the city council will adopt them soon and access much needed state energy and other funding. The city faces growing debt including payroll tax, insurance, and others. Gaming operations are not producing revenue. The community is still without a VPSO however city officials believe a facility renovation may improve the chances of recruiting a VPSO. RUBA offered to review bookkeeping procedures, accounting records, and provide training to staff and city council members and will maintain contact with city officials. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA will maintain contact with the water/sewer utility and the YKHC RUC and will plan to conduct a follow-up RUBA Assessment.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
7 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
18 of 27
Total Score:
25 of 54

Finances

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.
No 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.
No A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The village council did not adopt a utility budget during the quarter. Monthly utility financial reports were not assembled for the council. RUBA shared draft budgets and bookkeeping recommendations with staff with a focus on payment of debt including late federal taxes and ANTHC utility billing service debt. Utility debt continued to grow and AVEC debt put laundry and water treatment plant operations at risk of shutdown. Water/sewer utility collections were improved over prior quarters, however, and the city offered to pay the AVEC debt on the village council's behalf. The village council anticipates RUC participation will resolve many of the deficient RUBA financial indicators.

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.
No An accounts payable system is in place.
Yes 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
No 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.
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
Utility billing through ANTHC was consistent however collections were inconsistent but improved. The utility's accounts receivable system is in place but was not consistently reconciled with ANTHC's customer records and as a result some customer's bills were inaccurate. The payroll system in use presently calculates pay and taxes accurately but the utility still owes federal taxes for prior quarters and maintains separate tax ID's. Further, the utility maintains a separate workers compensation policy that's being paid via installments. Both the cash receipt and disbursement systems are not consistently used by staff including the laundry operations. Bank reconciliations are now being completed by the tribal Chief Financial Officer. RUBA continues to recommend integration of the utility recordkeeping system into the village council's system.

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's payroll is now managed by the centralized village council accounting staff. The payroll system accurately calculates and tracks payroll but past due tax debt remains. Staff have corresponded with the IRS to establish a payment plan.

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.
No 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 insurance costs are now being paid on an installment arrangement and coverage is secure according to staff. RUBA again recommended consideration of coverage under the tribe's plan as opposed to a separate plan for the utility although the matter may be moot based on the RUC's plan to hire and supervise utility staff starting on or near October 1, 2006.

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.
No The utility has an adequately trained manager.
No The utility has an adequately trained bookkeeper.
No 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 council has not actively established utility policy but has begun to more effectively enforce utility collections. The village administrator assumed primary responsiblity for utility management during the quarter and facilitated the rehire of a certified water operator. The village council's accounting staff are well-trained and now manage the books for the utility. The council has still not etablished a utility ordinance; in recent quarters RUBA provided sample ordinances and honeybucket haul preventative maintenance plans.

Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
Yes The utility maintains an inventory control list.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The primary water operator possesses an ADEC certificate and a backup operator is on staff. The water treatment plant utilizes a preventative maintenance plan. The utility can improve operations by adopting a preventative maintenance plan for the laundry and honeybucket haul operations. The operators provide reports to the utility manager and reportedly now consult a Remote Maintenance Worker based at Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation.