RUBA Community Status Report

Community Name: Tatitlek


Community:

Tatitlek

RUBA:

Yes

Staff:

Jedediah Smith

Agreement:

Yes

DCA Region:

Anchorage

Agreement Date:

10/9/2013

Region:

Prince William Sounds

Exp Date:

10/8/2015

Govt Type(s):

Tribal Council

Borough:

Assessment Date:

8/16/2012

Population:

76

Active Community:

Yes

Date Updated:

10/22/2013


Community Sanitation Overview:

Tatitlek is located on the northeast shore of Tatitlek Narrows, on the Alaska Mainland in Prince William Sound. It lies near Bligh Island, southwest of Valdez by sea and 30 air miles northwest of Cordova. Tatitlek is a coastal Alutiiq village with a fishing- and subsistence-based culture. The population is currently 76. Surface water is treated and stored in a 170,000-gallon tank. Forty-three homes and community buildings have piped water and wastewater service. The piped community wastewater tank system discharges via an ocean outfall.

RUBA Status
and Activities
this Quarter:

A signed authorization to request federal tax information was submitted to the IRS and returned as 'unprocessable' due to a discrepancy with the entity name and federal EIN. On September 13, RUBA staff met with Tatitlek Tribal Administrator Victoria Vlasoff, who participated in the Personnel UTM training in Anchorage. Tatitlek last had a RUBA assessment under a former Local Government Specialist and failed to meet a number of indicators. The administrator invited RUBA staff to the community to meet with the Tatitlek Tribal Council and to work with the administrator to bring the community into RUBA compliance. The administrator mentioned to RUBA staff that the community had spent all of its Community Revenue Sharing funds to purchase fuel for the next four months. The administrator did not know whether Tatitlek would have sufficient revenues to purchase more fuel later this winter. The administrator agreed to compile a list of priority tasks and to schedule a council meeting in October. RUBA staff agreed to review the assessment, compile a list of priorities for a work plan, and to discuss those priorities with the administrator in order to collaborate on a work plan for the community. RUBA staff also agreed to schedule a trip to the community in October.

 

Capacity Indicator: Finances

Essential Indicators:

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:

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.

Comment:

The Tatitlek Village IRA Council is the governing body of the utility. The utility is fully subsidized by the community; residents do not pay any fees for water or wastewater services. The community pays the salary of the water operator, phone and internet costs related to the utility; Chugachmiut - the regional tribal consortium - pays for fuel and supplies associated with the water and wastewater utilities. The community is working with an accountant outside the community (Aleut Accounting) for overall bookkeeping services, with tribal office staff taking responsibility for the day-to-day workings of the community, payroll, and electric utility invoicing. Documents were not supplied and therefore could not confirm that YTD revenues and expenditures correspond with budgeted amounts. As the financial recording system is refined and the budget is expanded in detail, it will become easier to evaluate the relationship between intended income and expense with actual amounts. The community schedules monthly meetings, but is not always successful at raising a quorum, most particularly in the summer months. Fuel is readily available, with purchases as needed. The community orders fuel from Whittier. The prior vendor was Crowley, but the community felt their fuel was too expensive. Access by barge is year-round, as the Prince William Sound is ice-free. The community sells heating fuel to residents from an Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) sponsored bulk fuel facility. Electricity is provided by the Tatitlek Electric Utility.

 

Capacity Indicator: Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators:

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.

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:

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.

Comment:

Tatitlek uses QuickBooks for all its accounting. The payroll system is set up accurately, correctly calculating payroll taxes. The tribal administrator reconciles bank statements each month. To date, monthly financial statements are not produced for the council; the tribal administrator intends to institute this practice. The community contracts with Aleut Accounting, an experienced accountant working outside the community. Regular communication and interaction between the Tatitlek Tribal Administrator and the community's accountant keep financial accounting current.

 

Capacity Indicator: Tax Problems

Essential Indicators:

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.

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.

Comment:

A signed authorization to request federal tax information was submitted to the IRS and returned as 'unprocessable' due to a discrepancy with the entity name and federal EIN. Until RUBA staff can verify the entity name and EIN based on previous tax filings, Tatitlek will be marked non-compliant. State Department of Labor reports Tatitlek is compliant with state tax filing requirements and is not on the July-August Lien Watch report.

 

Capacity Indicator: Personnel System

Essential Indicators:

Yes

The utility has a posted workers compensation insurance policy in effect.

Sustainable Indicators:

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.

No

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.

Comment:

The community does have a comprehensive and well written personnel policy. Job descriptions are available for all positions, and were updated in a staff workshop which took place during this on-site visit. Individual personnel folders contain all required information, including I-9s, job applications, and personnel actions. Although adopted personnel policy calls for a probationary period for new hires and regular employee evaluation, this policy has not been applied under prior administrations. Current staff recognize the value of regular verbal and written evaluation, and intend to reinstate the practice. Money has been budgeted for costs of employee travel to trainings, as well as council member attendance at state-wide conferences. The community places a high priority in offering ongoing support for its employees to attend training opportunities. The administrator has expressed the need to review policies and procedures with a particular focus on overtime eligibility for the utility operator.

 

Capacity Indicator: Organizational Management

Essential Indicators:

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:

Yes

The utility has adopted an organizational chart that reflects the current structure.

Yes

The policy making body meets as required.

No

The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.

Comment:

As meeting minutes for the Tatitlek IRA Council were not provided, it is unknown whether the policy making body is adequately involved in utility policy. As there are no fees for water or wastewater services, collections policy is not an issue. As an IRA Council, meetings where only tribal business is discussed are not covered by the Open Meetings Act, however any council meeting with discussion regarding projects accessing state funds (Community Revenue Sharing, state grants, etc.) is required to be open to the public and posted with reasonable notice. Currently, council meetings are not posted, although the tribal administrator notes that they are typically open to the public. As the water utility was built and repaired with public funds, water utility related discussions fall under Open Meetings Act criteria.

 

Capacity Indicator: Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators:

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:

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.

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.

No

The operator provides status reports to the manager on a routine basis.

No

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.

No

The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.

Comment:

The Tatitlek water operator holds certification in Water Treatment, Level 1, expiring 12/31/2013. CEU requirements for re-certification have not yet been met. The utility does not hold designated or documented safety meetings. There have been no major outages of the utility due to managerial errors. A notable issue in the operation of the utility is that the water operator is working without direct communication or management from administrative staff. During a work session in which RUBA staff facilitated the construction of an organizational chart, participants placed the position of the water operator as disconnected from the rest of the organization. The water plant is locked and the operator has the only key. Tatitlek chlorinates its water, and should anything happen to the operator while access to the plant is denied others, it could be hazardous to the community. A recommended practice is to have a second set of keys in the tribal office. This is a utility management issue which will need further resolution from the governing body. There is not a trained back-up water operator in the community. Two of the tribal staff - one in the administrative office and one in public works - volunteered during our meetings to attend training to get provisional licensure in water operations. This lack of communication resulted in an absence of a direct interview with the water operator during this on-site assessment visit. Public works personnel and office staff do not know of inventory control or spare parts lists, and those documents were not produced for this assessment. A preventive maintenance plan was similarly not obtained. Testing is done regularly. Administrative staff state that a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) has not been produced in recent years. The water utility is not listed on the April 2013 Significant Non-Compiler List.

RUBA Activities for the Coming Quarter:

RUBA staff is scheduled to travel to the community October 7-9 to meet with the tribal administrator and tribal council. The administrator discussed the need to address the personnel policies manual, as well as other RUBA assessment indicators.