Quarterly Report: 2011, January - March (Q3), Huslia

Community:
Huslia 
Staff:
 
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Huslia 
Population:
255  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
5/4/2011 
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City Council operates the piped water and sewer system and maintains a central watering point (no fee) where residents come to haul water to their homes. The city also maintains a sewage lagoon and a solid waste site. The City Council is the policy making body for the utility. As of March 31, 2011 there are 78 customers connected to the piped system. A newer water treatment facility was build and brought online during the summer of 2008, the older facility is not making clean water but the city is still paying for heating oil and electricity; it was supposed to be turned off in the summer of 2010. Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) agreed to pay the $4,070 heating bill. The older facility is now scheduled to be shut down in the summer of 2011. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Fairbanks RUBA staff traveled to Huslia on March 30, 2011, to conduct a Rural Utility Business Advisor (RUBA) management assessment. The final assessment will be completed in approximately one month, however the community appears to be meeting all of the essential indicators. The city administrator has been working for the city for 31 years and is able to keep accurate records which benefits both the city and the RUBA program. The tribal government has paid the water treatment plant's fuel bill which has allowed the city to keep customer water and wastewater rates at $75 a month. The administrator realizes that rates will likely need to increase and if no outside financial contributions occur then rates will definitely need to be increased. This quarter there was also limited communication with the city regarding the May 2010 quitclaim deeds that the mayor previously signed transferring all city property to the tribe. That land transfer was not legal and RUBA suggested the city contact their attorney. RUBA met with the State of Alaska Recorder's Office and was informed that the city can file a memo which can be attached to the quitclaim deeds. RUBA staff typed up three separate resolutions for the city to pass, which state the land transfers were processed illegally and that the city asserts its claim to the title. RUBA is not aware if the city passed or filed the resolutions.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Finalize the RUBA assessment that was conducted during an onsite visit March 30, 2011.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
27 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
24 of 27
Total Score:
51 of 54

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.
Yes 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.
Yes The utility is receiving revenues (user fees or other sources) sufficient to cover operating expenses.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
Yes 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.
Yes YTD expenditures are at a level equal to or below those budgeted.
Yes A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
Financial reports were received on March 30, 2011. The city received a $38,160 donation from the tribe to prevent an anticipated rate increase. The utility is currently showing a negative net income of $521 but during the site visit there was $300 in customer payments waiting to be deposited. The utility typically relies on financial assistance from community revenue sharing but the tribal donation will be applied to the shortfall. Income is higher than expenses and the expenses are under budget. The income is currently under budget.

Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes 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.
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.
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.
Accounting Systems Comments
The utility and the city use QuickBooks and are able to calculate payroll. Bills are sent out monthly and the utility tracks the accounts receivables. The city has a collection rate of 95%. The utility accounting is separate from the city but both use QuickBooks. The utility is provided financial support from the city's allotment of State of Alaska Community Revenue Sharing funds on an as needed basis and also from the Huslia Tribe which paid for the utilities fuel expense.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has a system to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities.
Yes The utility is current on filing tax reports.
Yes The utility is current on making tax deposits.
Yes 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
On March 30, 2011 the IRS deemed the city compliant. On April 12, 2011 the Department of Labor deemed the utility compliant.

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.
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.
Personnel System Comments
The utility is current with its workers compensation policy through AMLJIA, online verification on March 31, 2011 confirmed that the workers compensation policy is in effect. AML also assisted in the creation of the personnel policy manual which was provided to RUBA staff for review. The city and utility have very stable staff, the most recent hire was for a janitor position six years ago. The city administrator attends RUBA sponsored trainings in Fairbanks.

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.
Yes 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
Resolution 2009-05 for AMLJIA updated the risk management services and cooperative agreement. The city owns the utility as established in ordinance. Currently, there are two washeterias and water treatment facilities. As stated previously, a new system was built and brought online in October 2008 and the city planed on tearing down the older facility in the summer 2009 but that did not occur, it was supposed to happen the summer of 2010 but it still did not happen. RUBA staff was informed that ANTHC ran into difficulties with the project. The city is paying for the heat and electricity of the facility, the ANTHC engineer told the administrator to bill them so they could help pay for maintaining the defunct facilities. ANTHC did assist with paying the fuel bill for the older plant. The city council is the policy making body for the utility and is active in making policy and enforcing the current policy (this is supported by a high collection rate). The utility manager and bookkeeper functions are fulfilled by Elsie Vent who is also the city administrator. She is highly capable; the office is extremely organized, she has been employed by the city for 31 years (as of 2011), she has attended previous RUBA classes and the books for the utility are in order. A copy of the utility ordinance, which gives it the authority to operate, is on file in the Fairbanks office. The city council, as the utility policy making body, meets monthly and the meetings are open to the public. A copy of the organizational chart was hanging on the city wall and a photo copy was made. The utility has two employees and the city has three employees, it is a very streamlined organization. According to the DEC Certified Water/Wastewater Operator Database, all operators are certified.

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.
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".
No 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 utility was removed from the SNC list in November 2010 and as of the most recent report (January 2011) they are not on the list. The operator, Emil Sam, is currently certified with water treatment and distribution level 1 certificates which expire December 31 2012 and 2013, respectively. There is also an alternate operator, Daryl Sam, who is provisionally certified in water treatment and distribution until December 31, 2012. A preventative maintenance plan was created in 2001 (it is a 20 year plan) by the engineering firm Montgomery Watson. This plan is large and a copy was not made but it was inspected by RUBA, it is currently housed next to the administrator's computer for easy access. The operator provides frequent updates to the manager both in person and over the phone. The manager/administrator then reiterates the information to the council at the monthly meetings. Both reports are provided orally and the summary is recorded in the meeting minutes. The administrator attends safety meeting telephonically and then mails the lesson to each employee. The utility has an inventory and critical spare parts list for the old plant but the new lists are still being created. Devan Currier, ANTHC engineer, said in a phone call that he is creating them for the new plant.