Quarterly Report: 2009, July - September (Q1), Larsen Bay

Community:
Larsen Bay 
Staff:
Tammy Helms  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Larsen Bay 
Population:
83  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
11/17/2008 
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water is supplied from two groundwater sources- gravity feed from the hydro plant, and a well as backup, and stored in a 200,000 gallon tank. A water supply line is connected to the penstock of the hydroelectric plant and used a majority of the time to reduce utility expenses to both the service plant and the customer. All 40 homes are connected to the piped water system. A community septic tank with an outfall line serves these homes, and the majority of them are fully plumbed. Weekly refuse collection services are provided. The community incinerator is currently unusable and all refuse is deposited at the landfill site. The City has been funded for a water treatment plant project from VSW.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On September 24, 2008 RUBA staff traveled to Larsen Bay to assist the city clerk complete the FY09 budget for the council's review and train the new billing clerk. After numerous onsite visits to Larsen Bay and training four previous city clerks in the last 3 years, the City is finally showing signs of improvement and stability in not only staff but in regular office practices such as billing and collections. The new billing clerk has had exposure to QuickBooks in the past and is knowledgeable of the village setting. RUBA staff will continue to provide assistance to the community and work towards meeting all the essential indicators.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will continue to work with the community to meet all of the unmet management indicators.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
23 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
10 of 27
Total Score:
33 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.
No 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
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.
Yes A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The City of Larsen Bay drafted a FY 09 budget with RUBA assistance, although it was not adopted until August 2008. The clerk presents a profit and loss statement, as well as a profit and loss by class to the council monthly. However, a report with year to date revenues and expenses compared to the budget is not provided. The interfacility bills have not been paid for over a year due to not having a consistent office staff. During the on-site RUBA visit, staff trained the city clerk on how to pay the interfacility bills, and the clerk feels confident that she will be able to keep them current in the future. During the on-site visit, the City received confirmation of a RAFS loan to purchase fuel. The City has placed an order for 15,000 gal gas, 8,000gal #1 fuel and 40,000gal diesel. The water and sewer revenues are not sufficient to cover operating expenses; however, the City subsidizes its water and sewer utility through electric sales. A line item for the subsidy has been approved within the budget. Manager/ operator reports are given verbally to the council.

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 new city clerk has made it a priority to actively and consistently enforce the collection policy. The City utilizes QuickBooks for accounts receivable, accounts payable, and payroll. The QuickBooks system is set up properly and has been a tool in the past to reliably keep the City's finances in order. Currently, bills are going out on a regular basis. It is recommended that the council support and encourage the clerk's efforts to implement the City's collection policy. Normal procedures when purchasing are for the operator to inform the clerk of the material and price of the purchase, then the clerk creates a purchase order and allows the operator to order the material.

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
Last quarter, the City struggled to pay the monthly payroll liabilities to the bank due to staffing issues, but has managed, with RUBA assistance, to submit the quarterly reports to the IRS on time. To date, the City has not received any non-compliance notices from the IRS.

Personnel System

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has a posted workers compensation insurance policy in effect.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility has adopted and uses a Personnel Policy, which has been reviewed by an attorney, AML or Commerce for topics and language.
No 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.
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
The City of Larsen Bay has a posted workers' compensation insurance policy in effect from 7/1/08 to 7/1/09 with AML/JIA. The City's current hiring process is historical and is not written. Job notices are posted with the job title and description for 10 days. Interested applicants apply at the city office. There is currently no probationary period for employees. Training opportunities to staff are provided as funds allow or opportunities by other sponsors come available.

Organizational Management

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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
Answer Question
No 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
Currently, five of the seven council seats are up for election. In the past year the city council has had three council members resign, which has caused inconsistency and lack of enforcement of city policy. Although the city clerk is new, she has shown great improvement over the last onsite visit. Her consistency is an asset to the city office. It is critical that the council supports the clerk in pursuing collections. The current utility operator is trained but has not passed the certification test.

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
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.
No 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.
No The utility maintains an inventory control list.
No The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The remote maintenance worker for the region reports that there is a preventative maintenance plan for the existing system. The current utility operator is trained and can run the system but has not passed the certification test. The utility operator reports to the Mayor or Vice-Mayor when there is a problem or he can foresee one. The utility is not able to operate at the level of service that was proposed due to the inability to backwash the rapid sand filter. The utility does not meet all required drinking water regulations and is currently on the SNC list for treatment technique violations and monitoring violations for Stage one and SWTR. The utility operator and council attempt to keep needed critical spare parts on hand.