Promote strong communities and healthy economies.
- Local Government Assistance - Training and technical assistance to develop and maintain local capacities for administering essential government services
- Rural Utility Business Advisor (RUBA) - Increase the managerial and financial capacities of rural water and wastewater utilities
- Land Management Assistance - Assist and train communities on regional and local basis to address and resolve land and planning issues
- Financial Assistance - Administer multiple grant and funding distribution programs
- Information Resources - Collect, analyze and publish local government and economic development information
- Local Boundary Commission staff - Prepare and distribute information and reports on incorporation, dissolution, annexation, or consolidation
- State Assessor - Technical assistance to municipal assessors on property value assessments to promote equity in the distribution of education funding and other shared revenue programs
- Serve Alaska - Provide National Service and volunteerism opportunities within Alaska
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|A: Result - Local governments provide essential services and operate in a sustainable manner.|
Target #2: Reduce the number of communities (public entities) that are noncompliant with management sustainability indicators by five percent each year.
Analysis of results and challenges: Public services are critical to the health and long-term viability of communities. A local government's ability to provide adequate and sustainable public services can be accurately predicted by examining essential management indicators. DCRA gathers public entity data used by staff to conduct service assessments necessary to understand the existing level of governance and to provide any assistance necessary to them. In FY2009, the division began measuring compliance of a set number of entities using a standardized set of indicators. These indicators and compliance standards are:
1. Workers' Compensation policy - If an entity has an active policy or not.
2. Municipal elections - If the required election was properly held and certified.
3. Financial Audits - If the required state or federal financial audits have been completed and filed.
4. Liens - If liens or judgments are filed against the entity.
5. PERS Debt - If an entity is current on their PERS payments.
6. Fuel Loans - If an entity borrowed loans for purchase of fuel and is current on its payment; and
7. Financial Documents (budgets, audits/certified financial statements) - if an entity has completed and filed these documents.
While these indicators still prove useful for determining the health of a community, the entities previously selected and measured since 2009 are no longer relevant. Some entities have since dissolved while new ones have incorporated. A new list of 352 entities in a total of 212 communities have been chosen to more accurately reflect the contact and assistance offered by DCRA. These include: cities and non-home rule boroughs with a population under 2,500; entities that have received Community Assistance Payments for the past three years; and Federally Recognized Tribes located within communities that are neither abandoned or with a population above 2,500.
The compliance rate of the new entities for FY2020 is 79.8%. Of the seven indicators, the highest percentage of noncompliance was found within the metrics that measure lien and PERS debt compliancy with 32% and 28% noncompliant, respectively. DCRA will further examine the efficacy and reliability of these seven indicators in upcoming years considering staff's reduced resources to work with communities, accuracy of data, timeliness of information reported, community resources, and new Best Practice methodologies.
Target #3: 100 percent of municipal governments provide essential public services (i.e. elections, legal, health, financial/contracting, fuel).
Analysis of results and challenges: DCRA attempts to identify and help all local governments requiring assistance to meet the minimum criteria for becoming a city, e.g. holding required public meetings and elections, providing adequate financial disclosure of public finances, and codifying municipal ordinances. Some municipalities struggle with providing these basic public services and lack the administrative capacity to manage the finances of the city. However, with DCRA's assistance, most cities ultimately meet these minimum criteria. Despite the assistance available through DCRA, some municipalities are unable to meet the basic requirements to sustain a city.
The most consistent means of assessing a local government's provision of essential public services is by tracking which communities have met the requirements for receiving Community Assistance Payments (CAP) in accordance with AS 29.60.850-860; 3 AAC 180.010-900. In order to receive CAP payment, each municipality must submit to DCRA a budget, audit or certified financial statement, and a tax report if applicable, as well as certain application materials. Management practices such as holding public meetings and elections, adequate public finances, and municipal codification are arguably necessary in order to complete the CAP payment requirements, thus CAP compliance can be used as a barometer for providing essential public services.
Documents are usually due June 30th, in order to release payment. However, in 2020 the state legislature extended the deadline to November 2020 in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Therefore, the entities meeting this target are significantly lower in 2020 than in prior years. Only 64% have submitted the relevant paperwork by June 30 However, this is likely a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and the legislature's extension of the deadline, and not a failure of the communities to provide essential public services. DCRA's focus this year has been with assisting meeting community needs around the COVID-19 public health crisis, during this time of emergency. It is expected that this year's low percentage will be an outlier and may be adjusted in next year's report.
|A1: Core Service - Local Government Assistance - Training and technical assistance to develop and maintain local capacities for administering essential government services|
Target #1: The number of interventions required by staff to prevent disruptions of essential public services is reduced each year.
Analysis of results and challenges: Continuous monitoring and proactive interactions with Alaskan communities provides DCRA staff with an opportunity to intercede and avert a possible community crisis before it happens. There were 111 Interventions in FY2020, including providing 14 fuel loans to communities ineligible for bank loans and coordination of fuel deliveries to avoid critical shortages; assistance with delinquent Power Cost Equalization (PCE) reports to facilitate payments before they expire; assistance meeting minimum requirements to receive Community Assistance Program and Payment in Lieu of Taxes payments; assistance with QuickBooks accounting issues, resolving IRS matters; and assistance with utility management to avoid loss of essential public sanitation services.
|A2: Core Service - Rural Utility Business Advisor (RUBA) - Increase the managerial and financial capacities of rural water and wastewater utilities|
Target #1: Increase the number of users trained on the Utility Management training courses.
Analysis of results and challenges: Eight 32-hour utility management courses were developed to build local capacity for operations and maintenance of local infrastructure. These courses are approved for continuing education units and are often presented in conjunction with regional health corporations and other regional entities. In FY2020, Rural Utility Business Advisor (RUBA) staff presented additional classes in QuickBooks and Bulk Fuel Financial Management. Nine classes were taught in three different regional hubs training 151 utility management managers, elected officials and staff. The COVID-19 health crisis resulted in the cancellation of at least 3 courses, which likely would have added 50-75 participants. However, in FY2021, courses are being converted to an online format.
|A3: Core Service - Land Management Assistance - Assist and train communities on regional and local basis to address and resolve land and planning issues|
Target #1: Provide appropriate site control for all identified uses of Municipal Lands Trust land.
Analysis of results and challenges: The Municipal Lands Trustee (MLT) Program was created in 1975 to carry out Section 14(c)(3) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which requires every village corporation to reconvey title to "the remaining improved land on which the Native village is located, and as much additional land as is necessary for community expansion, and appropriate rights-of-way for public use, and land for other foreseeable community needs." These lands are transferred to the appropriate municipal corporation (a first- or second-class city) where one exists, or otherwise to the "State in trust for any municipal corporation established in the Native village in the future."
Land settlements have been completed for 39 of the 93 communities served by the program, with approximately 11,500 acres currently held in trust by the state. Lands held in trust are used for airports, landfills, schools, other community development, and future community expansion.
Following a major transition of staff in 2013, the MLT program resumed the practice of making site visits to communities for which land is held in trust by the State of Alaska. The site visits are an opportunity for to build critical relationships with local leaders and to inspect land held in trust. Site visits frequently result in the identification of land uses in need of site control. Much work remains to be updated or completed. Staff have completed 21 site visits since FY2014 resulting in an increase of identified land uses not yet under site control. While current budget constraints have limited the opportunity to conduct further site visits, the current MLT staff member is able to leverage existing relationships with communities served to achieve positive outcomes.
Despite the challenges presented by reduced staffing and the transition to telework during the COVID-19 pandemic, MLT staff were able to bring the percentage of public uses of MLT land under site control to its highest level in the modern history of the program. At 76% of uses under site control, this represents a 9% improvement. Since 2013, the year over year improvement of this metric has never exceeded 2%.
|A4: Core Service - Financial Assistance - Administer multiple grant and funding distribution programs|
Target #1: Percentage of grant appropriations fully expended within the award period.
Analysis of results and challenges: Grant administrators have a primary responsibility to assure grant agreements are prepared within statutory deadlines. Once a grantee is under agreement, the grant administrators have a responsibility to work closely with each of them to provide technical assistance and training, so they are able to successfully complete their project within the award period.
A review of the grants awarded for the five-year grant period ending in FY2020 indicated 86% of grants awarded were successfully completed in that period.
Target #2: All grantees are notified of funding appropriation within 30 days of capital bill being signed into law.
Analysis of results and challenges: Statutes authorizing the majority of the funding awarded by the Division require notification of the grantee within a 45- or 60-day period. It is the goal of the Division to notify all recipients within 30 days of the effective date of the funding. This goal applies to grants as well as allocations made through the Community Assistance Program (CAP, formerly Community Revenue Sharing), Payment In Lieu of Taxes, or shared fisheries business tax allocations. For FY2020, 100% of notifications were made within the 30-day period.
|A5: Core Service - Information Resources - Collect, analyze and publish local government and economic development information|
Target #1: 75% of entities compliant with all managerial capacity indicators in communities with a population base of less than 2,500.
Analysis of results and challenges: The Community Status Report (CSR) identifies possible managerial problems and provides selected information about a community's managerial capacity. The indicators measured address public performance issues and reveal a community's financial management results as displayed in the respective fiscal years' operating revenues and operating expenditures. Data collected and analyzed include: financial records; elections (required by statute); liens; workers' compensation; delinquent audits; fuel loans per entity; and PERS debt.
The overall performance of entities in 238 communities have improved between FY2019 and FY2020 from 74 percent to 78 percent. DCRA will further examine the efficacy and reliability of these indicators in upcoming years considering staff's reduced resources to work with communities, accuracy of data, timeliness of information reported, community resources, and new Best Practice methodologies.
|A6: Core Service - Local Boundary Commission staff - Prepare and distribute information and reports on incorporation, dissolution, annexation, or consolidation|
Target #1: All required reports are produced within regulatory deadlines.
Analysis of results and challenges: Statutory requirements are met on every petition. The number of required reports produced by the Local Boundary Commission (LBC) or its staff can vary from year to year, depending on how many petitions are submitted. The LBC staff has many obligations such as assisting the public and communities with questions, administrative functions, coordinating and scheduling LBC meetings, public records requests, quarterly ethics reports, and traveling to communities. No new petitions were accepted for filing and no reports were required in FY2019.
In FY2020 staff completed the annual report, one informal technical review, and received one annexation petition. Staff completed the technical review, preliminary report and a final report.
Target #2: Local Boundary Commission staff determines that all submitted petitions have met the statutory and regulatory requirements
Analysis of results and challenges: The Local Boundary Commission (LBC) was created in the Constitution of the State of Alaska to ensure that arguments for and against proposals to create or alter municipal governments are analyzed objectively and take area-wide and state-wide needs into consideration. LBC staff must respond to petitions when and as submitted. While several petitions may arrive in a year's time, not all will meet the statutory and regulatory requirements to move forward to consideration by the LBC.
In FY2020, the Local Boundary Commission received one annexation petition from an existing municipality. Staff reviewed the petition and produced a preliminary report and a final report. LBC staff also provided as a courtesy, an informal technical review for a borough formation petition. That petition did not pass technical review standards and did not require a report.
|A7: Core Service - State Assessor - Technical assistance to municipal assessors on property value assessments to promote equity in the distribution of education funding and other shared revenue programs|
Target #1: All statutorily required determinations completed.
Analysis of results and challenges: Full value equalization must occur for each city or borough that is a school district or that levies real property taxes. There are currently 34 municipalities that that are school districts with 1 additional municipality (Whittier) that levies a property tax but is not a school district. The Office of the State Assessor also visits these communities to provide training to staff, Boards of Equalization, or when other technical needs arise. The details of each city and borough's tax policies and assessment procedure vary widely making the on-site audits and assistance unique to each municipality. The remoteness of some jurisdictions also requires substantial travel time and expense. Data for prior fiscal years was corrected to represent the valid statutory requirement. These determinations require on-site visits to make adequate, defendable determinations. If these values are not correct, inequities in funding distribution will occur. The Office of the State Assessor also defends Full Value Determinations when and if appeals of the Full Value Determination occur.
Target #2: 100 percent of taxing municipalities are audited once every five years.
Analysis of results and challenges: Currently 24 municipalities levy a property tax. The Office of the State Assessor (OSA) also visits these communities to provide training to staff, Boards of Equalization or when other technical needs arise. The details of each city and borough's tax policy and assessment procedure varies widely, making on-site audits and assistance unique to each municipality. The remoteness of some jurisdictions also requires substantial travel time and expense. In FY2020 the OSA completed two detailed audits: Petersburg Borough and the City and Borough of Wrangell. Additionally, in FY2020 the OSA conducted a statewide audit of property tax systems and technology that includes reporting and reviewing all property taxing jurisdictions' systems and technology to ensure adequate systems exist and that tax rolls are equitable. This is a generalized audit of all jurisdictions rather than a detailed audit of a single jurisdiction. Future audits will return to audits of individual jurisdictions.
|B: Result - Services and volunteerism in Alaska exceeds the national average ranking (among the 50 States)|
|B1: Core Service - Serve Alaska - Provide National Service and volunteerism opportunities within Alaska|
Target #1: The number of beneficiaries being served by AmeriCorps members and recruited volunteers will increase annually.
Analysis of results and challenges: Serve Alaska is responsible for recruitment and placement of volunteers in programs that receive assistance under the national service laws and ensure outreach to diverse community-based agencies that serve underrepresented populations. Starting in 2012, Serve Alaska contracted with a web-based reporting system called OnCorps that counted overall attendees instead of individual beneficiaries. This system was specifically designed to comply with Federal AmeriCorps programmatic and fiscal management. The system tracks and calculates required Federal and Alaskan demographics including the number Alaskan beneficiaries served. The significant decrease in beneficiaries served in 2016 is due to a loss of three programs. Over the 2014-2016 timeframe, Serve Alaska's funded portfolio decreased by over half. 2019 numbers kept the recent upward trend with new programs becoming more established.
Target #2: The number of volunteers recruited by AmeriCorps members in Alaska will increase annually.
Analysis of results and challenges: Through outreach efforts and coordination with the Corporation for National and Service, Serve Alaska helps Alaskan secure valuable work skills and experience while reaping the benefits of responsible citizenship and community service. The commission has helped to recruit, train, and deploy 2,500 volunteers across Alaska to address needs in education, homeland security, the environmental arena and public safety.
Starting in 2013, Serve Alaska required all Alaska AmeriCorps programs to report on a federal performance measure. The performance measure has three outputs: number of Volunteer Opportunities created, number of Volunteers recruited (for these opportunities) and number of hours those volunteers served. All reporting is now completed in a web based reporting system called OnCorps. Now all of the Alaska AmeriCorps programs are reporting on the same effort, and within the same system, Serve Alaska's numbers are higher and more accurate in comparison to the national level.
In 2014 and 2015, two AmeriCorps programs chose not to reapply for funding, resulting in the significant reduction of the number of members serving the state.
In 2016-2017, Serve Alaska brought on four new programs which has increased the number of AmeriCorps members serving and continues to rise as Serve Alaska partners more closely with the Corporation for National and Community Service and identifies new partners.
Current as of December 3, 2020