Quarterly Report: 2006, April - June (Q4), New Stuyahok

Community:
New Stuyahok 
Staff:
Ralph Andrew  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of New Stuyahok 
Population:
461  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
7/26/2006 
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water is derived from a well and is treated. The majority of the community (94 homes), facilities and the school are connected to a piped water and sewer system installed in 1971 and have complete plumbing. Some residents use individual wells and septic tanks; six homes are without complete plumbing. Electricity is provided by AVEC. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Dillingham Regional Office RUBA conducted a RUBA Assessment of management indicators during the first quarter of 2006. The subsequent RUBA Assessment report noted deficiencies in two areas - utility revenue and the water/sewer ordinance. The ordinance sounds close to final however water/sewer cash flow sounds negative for the recent months. RUBA awaits confirmation of actual financial condition through June 30, 2006. The city continues outsourcing water/sewer billing to Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). The city opted to end its contract with a separate collections agency due to perceptions of poor customer service. During the quarter, ANTHC project staff expressed concern related to the status of deficient Assessment indicators and plans to meet with the city council to discuss concerns early next quarter. RUBA plans to attend the meeting. Late in the quarter, during the city administrator's summer leave, the water operator was assigned to review deficient indicators. RUBA offered a sample RUBA work plan for consideration and maintains contact with the operator. The operator believes the sanitation utility is barely keeping up with present water/sewer demand. Ten new HUD homes are near construction and a new school has been proposed. RUBA encouraged thorough planning and contact with project engineers and community entities engaged in local projects. Concerning finances, the city is still operating under cost-reduction measures. Water/sewer utility revenue remains below average. The utility is falling behind on Alaska Village Electric Cooperative electric bills. Despite staffing reductions, payroll costs are taking a toll on the city's coffers. The city proposed tribal takeover of community roads maintenance due to cost and is reportedly still awaiting the tribal council's response. The city council implemented a landfill use fee and continues contemplating revenue generating solutions including a local sales tax. Based on a June 8, 2006 report, the City of New Stuyahok has not accessed all of their available Small Municipal Energy Assistance Program (SMEAP) energy funds from the state. A balance of $12,547.04 remains. RUBA urged action before funds expire at the end of June. The city eagerly anticipates the $40,000 in state energy funding in FY 2007. Fuel supplies are reportedly sufficient through fall. Concerning land, RUBA reviewed of draft land disposal ordinances at the city's request during the quarter. The city plans to sell land to residents wishing to construct a home on surveyed lots which have yet to be connected to infrastructure including roads, water/sewer, and electricity. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA will maintain contact with the water operator assigned to lead RUBA Assessment follow-up and will plan travel early next quarter to meet with the city staff and council.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
23 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
21 of 27
Total Score:
44 of 53

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.
No 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.
No 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.
Yes Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The utility budget, as adopted, anticipated a surplus but revenues have not kept pace with expenditures. The City took measures to reduce expenditures by laying-off non-essential staff and continues to make attempts to improve water/sewer collections, its primary source of revenue. Utility past due debt exceeds $160,000. The utility has fallen behind on bills including AVEC and hopes to pay off debt by next quarter. This quarter's revenues were expected to surpass expenditures however RUBA awaits confirmation of actual financial activity from city staff. Staff provide detailed written financial and management reports to the city 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 City can realize higher revenues if it enforces collections of past due debt. RUBA does not recommend writing off water/sewer debt that is older than two years unless it is deemed uncollectible. The City continues to participate in an outsourced water/sewer billing service provided by ANTHC for $350 per month. Collections are generally strong and serve as the city's primary source of revenue. The city's new water/sewer ordinance is expected to include a more detailed collection policy. Staff continue gaining proficiency with QuickBooks accounting software. The City Administrator, however, is facing a larger workload with the layoff of the bookkeeper/clerk. The staff practice timely and accurate tracking and recording of payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and cash disbursement.

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 administrators use of QuickBooks and a consistent approach to recordkeeping has helped maintain compliance with state and federal tax obligations. During the first quarter the authorization for the release of federal tax information indicated the city is in compliance with federal tax obligations. The city indicated they have maintained tax compliance during the quarter.

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.
No 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 has posted a Workers Compensation insurance policy purchased through AML valid through July 1, 2006. The city administrator and water operator job description could benefit from a revision since the water operator continues to assume more utility management responsibility. Personnel folders do not presently include comprehensive documentation including letters of acceptance but staff are aware of the deficiencies and plan to make improvements.

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.
No 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
In the first quarter the Regulatory Commission of Alaska granted a Provisional Certificate for the water and sewer utility. However, RUBA awaits written confirmation that the utility is operating under the new, RCA-approved water/sewer ordinance. The City Administrator serves as the Utility Manager and the Water Operator is assuming more managerial responsibilities. The city council is active in making and enforcing utility policy. Staff is adequately trained and continue to seek training opportunities to improve their skills.

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.
Yes The utility maintains an inventory control list.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The Water Operator is certified at the OIT level for water treatment, water distribution, wastewater collection, and wastewater treatment. The utility has encountered what can be characterized as minor system outages due to water line breaks in recent months, all repaired according to the city. Utility staff maintain a preventative maintenance plan and maintain contact with ANTHC engineers and BBAHC RMW staff. The Water Operator also serves as a City Council member and reports directly to the City Administrator. RUBA recommended the school water meter be replaced for accuracy purposes even if a flat monthly fee is applied.