Quarterly Report: 2011, April - June (Q4), Teller

Community:
Teller 
Staff:
Iura Leahu  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Teller 
Population:
256  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
8/3/2011 
Community Sanitation Overview:
Teller does not have a piped water/wastewater utility. During the summer, water is piped in from Coyote Creek, a couple of miles east of the school. The water is treated and stored in a large storage tank. In the winter, treated water is delivered from the large storage tank at the washeteria, or residents use melted ice from area creeks. A few residents use their own ATV's or snowmachines to haul water. The school operates its own sewer system. Sixty-seven residents and 15 businesses use honeybuckets, which are hauled by the City. A few homes and facilities have septic tanks.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On May 31, 2011, Nome RUBA staff traveled to the City of Teller to complete an on-site RUBA assessment. The city clerk and the mayor assisted RUBA staff during the assessment. To date, the City of Teller has bounced back to successful operations since the city council, the mayor and the city clerk took upon the task of actively tackling the issues the city and its public utilities have faced for the past several years. Overall, most of the essential indicators on the RUBA assessment have been met. There are several sustainable indicators that have not been met. However, Tellers city staff is aware of the problems and has been diligently working toward finding workable solutions. The mayor signed a RUBA agreement and an action plan when implemented will address each of the issues listed in the RUBA assessment. A detailed RUBA assessment report will be written and distributed in the coming weeks.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will work with the city on the following issues: -Implement strategies that would increase the collection rate for trash/honey-bucket service customers. -Continue billing trash/honey-bucket service customers on a regular monthly basis. -Review and draft a collection policy that specifically addresses the honey-bucket hauling and landfill services. -Work with RUBA staff and city to draft workplan for the city.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
22 of 23
Sustainable Indicators:
20 of 24
Total Score:
42 of 47

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
No 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.
Yes A monthly manager's report is prepared.
Yes Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The city has maintained a balanced budget during the FY 2011. The FY 12 budget is balanced too. However, based on financial data from the current budget and budgets of prior years, the washateria, honeybucket hauling and landfill funds, which are enterprise funds where the intent is that the costs of providing services be financed primarily through user fees, historically has not had a balanced budget. These public utilities usually fail to recover sufficient revenues through user fees. The city council is well informed of the discrepancy, but it supports subsidizing these services deemed essential by both the city residents and the city council. Funds are transferred from other funds, such as the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), Community Revenue Sharing Program funds and Norton Sounds Economic Development Corporation Community Benefit Share funds. The city council plays an important role in the decision making process regarding the financial condition of the city and public utility services. According to the regular meeting minutes for the month of February, March and April 2011, the city council has been provided with monthly financial reports accompanied by financial analyses and comments given by the city clerk. The meeting minutes show that the city council has discussed each major financial transaction.

Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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
Even though the collection rate has significantly improved compared to the previous years, there are residents who have neglected to pay their bills for the honeybucket hauling services. The utility billing and collection procedures are included in the utility ordinance, but the city council has not enforced the procedures. Moreover, the current user fees are too low. When collection rate is low (between 35%-45% from July 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011) and user fees are low as well, the option of raising fees is due. To its credit, the city council has been discussing a possible raise in user fees, according to the regular meeting minutes. The city clerk keeps current the accounts receivable and payable. The accounts receivable show a large number of delinquent honeybucket customers, but the city council cannot simply stop providing the service due to greater health risks resulting from not providing the service. The city council is deliberating on a plan to address this issue. The city clerk attended a RUBA-sponsored QuickBooks Pro training in Nome and successfully completed it. All payroll records are up to date through July 2011. The city clerk writes a receipt for any income received and a copy of every transaction is kept in receipts books. The data is than entered into the Excel spreadsheets and QuickBooks. All asset and liability accounts are included in a chart of accounts. Bank reconciliations are completed at the end of each month.

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.
N/A 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 current with its tax reports and payments. The city clerk was able to go through the process of making electronic payments using Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) new implemenation requirements before the deadline imposed by the IRS.Within the last year and half, the money that was owed to the IRS and the Alaska Department of Labor was paid off. The city has been compliant with the IRS and Department of Labor since.

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 utility has general liability and workers' compensation coverage. The workers compensation insurance is purchased through Alaska Municipal League/Joint Insurance Association and valid until July 1, 2011. The Notice of Insurance was posted in plain view in the city office. According to utility staff, a new insurance will be purchased for the FY 2012. A copy of the city's personnel policies, which applies to all city employees, is on file with RUBA staff. The utility follows the personnel policies in the day-to-day management of personnel. Job descriptions are up to date and outline each employee's duties. The hiring and evaluation process is described in the personnel policies. The utility maintains personnel files for all employees but the utility does not have a Form I-9 for each employee. The city clerk reported that the city is in the process of updating all employees' files to include the I-9. The city and the utility have a probationary period for new hires that includes orientation, job-training/oversight and evaluation, which is completed after ninety days of an employee on the job. The city and the utility provide training opportunities to staff as funds are available. The regular meeting minutes also indicate that the city has been dealing with employee turnover, especially in the sanitation utility. According to the city clerk, in spite of the continuing employee turnover, the city office has been able to increase employees' longevity on the job. Among the factors that contributed to employment longevity with the city office has been appreciation shown for the performance of services and the addition of fringe benefits, such as monetary incentives.

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.
N/A 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
The City of Teller owns the water delivery and watering point equipment but the water plant is maintained and operated by the local school. The city council has been discussing taking over the services. The city is working on the developing a plan to build a new water treatment and distribution facility. The city has been in contact with an engineering firm that tests the water and may be involved in the building of the water treatment facility. The city operates a washeteria that is attached to the water plant. The washeteria employs two part-time washeteria attendants. The city council acts as the policy making body and places sanitation issues in the regular monthly city council meetings.

Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
N/A The utility operator(s) are actively working towards necessary certification.
N/A The utility has a preventative maintenance plan developed for the existing sanitation facilities.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
N/A 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.
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.
N/A The utility has completed and distributed its "Consumer Confidence Report".
N/A 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 water plant is maintained and operated by the local school.