White Paper: Utility & Telecom Audits—Potent (but Painless) Budget Help for Tribal Governments and Casinos
Utility billing errors and miscalculations can cost tribal governments hundreds of thousands of dollars per year—and they are not easy to find! A comprehensive audit process developed and utilized by ERS Utility Solutions has confirmed that many tribal governments are being overcharged for energy, telecommunications, water and sewer services at gaming casinos, schools, health care clinics, community centers and other tribal-run facilities. Reducing utility expenses and recovering overcharges is a potent, but painless, budget solution for tribal governments in this era of self-determination and growing demand for services.
THE CHALLENGE: TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS FACE INCREASING DEMANDS FOR SERVICES WHILE CASINOS DEAL WITH GROWING COMPETITIVE CHALLENGES
Tribal governments are sovereign and self determining. As such, they face growing pressure to provide members with a full range of services, from transportation and safety to housing, education, health care and more. On many reservations, these are housed in multiple tribal-run facilities that require significant oversight and money to maintain and operate.
One major source of revenue in recent years has been tribal casinos. Their popularity and importance to tribal communities have grown exponentially since 1988, when Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). It provided a regulatory framework for Indian gaming and defined five specific ways in which casino profits can be spent: 1) to fund tribal government operations for programs, 2) to provide for the general welfare of the tribe and its members, 3) to promote tribal economic development, 4) to support charitable organizations, and 5) to help fund operations of local government agencies.
Many tribal governments are responding to current realities by looking for ways to operate more efficiently and by cutting waste in their budgets. Because casinos and tribal-run facilities such as schools health care clinics and government service centers are very energy, telecom and utility intensive, it makes good business sense to start by analyzing costs associated with these services. A comprehensive utility and telecom audit is a good place to start.