Quarterly Report: 2014, January - March (Q3), Nulato

Community:
Nulato 
Staff:
Jeremy Johnson  
DCRA Regional Office:
Fairbanks regional office 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Nulato 
Population:
262 2013 Department of Labor Estimate 
Assessment Status:
Assessment N/A 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
3/26/2014 
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Nulato operates two washeterias and a piped water system to a portion of the residents. Water is derived from a well near the mouth of the Nulato River, pumped two miles to a treatment plant in the Old Townsite, and pumped an additional 1.5 miles to a 129,000 gallon holding tank in the New Townsite. Water treatment is minimal. The Old Townsite Washeteria, constructed in 1974, utilizes an independent well (separate from the well used for the piped system). In addition to washers and dryers, the facility has showers and a community watering point; a new wastewater lagoon was completed in 2003. Approximately 30 homes in the Old Townsite lack piped water and wastewater service and the residents haul water from the watering point or the Nulato River, and use honey buckets or outhouses. The New Townsite Laundromat was constructed in 1988 and the piped water and wastewater system was constructed in 1996. Piped service is provided to approximately 57 paying customers. During the summer 2010 construction season, new service pipe was buried to vacant residential lots and five existing homes were connected. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
RUBA staff attempted an on-site visit to Nulato on February 5 and made it as far as Galena before the flight was canceled. Staff offered telephonic advice to the clerk, bookkeeper and council on the legality of requiring city employees to have utility bills deducted from their paychecks. This is an allowable practice if the employee agrees in writing. Fairbanks staff attended a city council meeting, via telephone, and answered questions from the council regarding a proposed change to the personnel policy which would allow the city to pay council member and mayor for lost wages from outside employment when traveling on city business. After discussion on the topic the council did not adopt the motion. The mayor receives a monthly fee of $500; the council may, as part of the budgeting process for FY15 discuss increasing the monthly fee. The council also asked for advice and input on other topics, such as paying into social security and also participating in the PERS system. Staff reminded the council about the Open Meetings Act, that all votes must be in open and the public must know how each member voted. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
An on-site visit is currently being scheduled. The bookkeeper has requested assistance in creating the FY15 budget.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
27 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
22 of 27
Total Score:
49 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.
Yes 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.
No A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The city is in a good financial position. Income is below what was budgeted for this time period, specifically the Capital Grants (CDBG-Community Hall) and Service Fund Income (Nulato Life Project Grants) line item accounts. If the city is certain no more grant money will be received, a budget amendment can occur and reduce the budgeted income closer to what was actually received. Total expenses are below what was budgeted. However, line item account, Insurance and Bonding went way over budget, it should be considered for an amendment. Travel and Per Diem and WS Parts/Supplies have also gone over budget. It is recommend to review each department that has a negative net income,the Downtown Laundromat for example, and do a general ledger adjustment to move money from a department with a positive net income.

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
A village Safe Water employee asked RUBA staff about the management of Nulato and the collection rate, which is 92 percent. The city has good success with delinquent accounts by turning them over to Cornerstone Collection agency. The city uses QuickBooks and is successful with the accounting program. While on-site, the chart of accounts was reviewed and many accounts were inactivated or combined to create a shorter list, an easier to use list.

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
The city is compliant with the IRS as of March 26, 2014. The DOL has not yet replied to a compliance request.

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.
No 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 city uses the services of AMLJIA for personnel issues. The city has a worker's compensation insurance policy in effect through AMLJIA, and online verification proves the coverage. RUBA, city staff, and AMLJIA reviewed and updated the personnel manual in 2011, the recommended updates were presented to and adopted by the council. Job descriptions exist for every position; RUBA reviewed the descriptions and some minor updates were recommended. Letters of acceptance do not exist in every employees file. The city has fairly stable staff; the water operator has over 20 years experience, the city office staff comprises of three individuals with various lengths of employment ranging from four to one year.

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
The city passed an ordinance providing the authority to own and operate the utility. The city council is the ultimate governing body for the utility. According to the city council meeting minutes they are active in policy making and enforcing existing policy. The manager and utility staff are adequate and perform their duties well. The city has an organizational chart in the standard chart format and it also has the chain of command in a text document; the mayor manages the employees and there are so few employees that all employees are directly under the supervision of the mayor. The council meets every month and the meetings conform to the open meetings act.

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".
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.
Operation of Utility Comments
The water plant operator, Greg Patsy, is current on his certifications and based on the physical appearance of the document, the operator uses the preventative maintenance plan. The Remote Maintenance Worker with TCC submitted a trip report detailing some of the mechanical issues specific to the water utility. A pressure pump was not running in the automatic mode, the cause was a burned out Magnetek low sensitivity control relay, which has burnned out twice already. The system was still able to operate and provide service to customers. Copies of the cover and title pages were made and RUBA staff reviewed the manuals. The water plant operator provides a daily activity log to the mayor and council member. The city clerk attends AMLJIA safety meetings and at the monthly employee meetings presents the topics. The utility has been operating at the level provided and is not suffering any outages. A copy of the last CCR was made and the utility is not on the most current, January 2014, SNC list. RUBA staff met with the operator to try and determine if lists of inventory or spare parts were used, but the operator did not have any such list. He indicated that he has a good idea of inventory in his head but conceded that in his absence others would be at a disadvantage.