Quarterly Report: 2008, January - March (Q3), Teller

Community:
Teller 
Staff:
 
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Teller 
Population:
263  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
5/7/2008 
Community Sanitation Overview:
Teller does not have a water/sewer utility. Water is hauled from the Gold Run River (20 miles away) by the City water truck, and delivered to home storage tanks, during the summer. In the winter, treated water is delivered from a large storage tank at the washeteria, or melt ice is used 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:
Despite Nome RUBA staff travelling to Teller three times last quarter to provide assistance with the FY 08 budget, the City Council has still not adopted a budget. The Village Safe Water (VSW) engineer, Lynn Marino, and staff from the Divison of Community and Regional Affairs Anchorage Office, Planning section, travelled to Teller in February to discuss land use planning and future sanitation projects. This quarter, RUBA staff assisted City staff again with the FY 08 budget, provided advice with a heating oil shortage, and technical assistance with the City Special Election. Sarah Okboak, Vice Mayor and acting City Clerk, successfully completed a 32-hour RUBA sponsored Personnel Management workshop in Nome the last week of February. Last quarter, Nome RUBA staff assisted with the completion of a funding request for a new honey bucket haul truck and learned that it was approved for funding in the amount of $114,000. The truck will be delivered to Teller in the next few months when the first barge arrives.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will be working closely with the City to address a number of issues including continued financial training for staff, ordinance and policies revisions and enforcement and regular site visits to support City staff.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
19 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
25 of 27
Total Score:
44 of 53

Finances

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.
No 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.
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.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The City adopted a FY07 budget ordinance on August 8, 2006. At the time of this report, the FY08 budget still has not been adopted. Review of the FY 07 budget revenue and expenses indicates a need for increased revenue or decrease in expenditures for a balanced realistic budget. Revenues for combined water sales, washeteria, and honey bucket/trash haul are projected to be $21,600. Expenses for the three are projected to be $74,724 for FY2007. According to a year-to-date monthly financial statement compiled by RUBA staff, the utility and washeteria's total operating expenditures exceed revenues by $34,808 ($68,762 expended and $33,954 received). The Honey Bucket/Trash Haul accounts receivable list indicates 67 active residential and 15 commercial accounts. The monthly charge for this service is $35 and $50 respectively. This would project annual revenues of $30,552. The Budget for FY 07 is $5,500 and FY07 Actual revenues are $11,165. While the utility is not receiving user fees sufficient to cover operating expenses, the City has subsidized the operation with the use of their Community Benefit Share allocation received annually from the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation (NSEDC). In order to achieve the 85% collection rate required by granting agencies (VSW, USDA-RD) the City should be receiving approximately $2,500 every month. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) is currently offering to provide billing services for the City at a rate of $175.00 a month. Monthly financial statements (MFS) are in need of improvement. As they stand now, the statements are incomplete and do not give a complete picture of the City's finances. They should be more detailed, agree with the FY 08 budget ordinance and show checking account balance. Alaska Statute 29.20.500(4) requires the Manager or Mayor to 'make monthly financial reports and other reports on municipal finances and operations as required by the governing body.' RUBA staff is working with the Clerk on a reporting spreadsheet formatted in Excel.

Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility has adopted a collection policy and actively follows it.
No 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
Chapter 31-Utilities Board and Utilities, section 15. Collection outlines the policy for nonpayment for services rendered. At present, the City has an extremely low collection rate of approximately 36% for FY07. However, the rate has increased in the past few months with interest amongst the community to improve sanitation conditions. The new City Council has made the increase of collections and consistent billing a priority in the upcoming year. RUBA staff provided the City with information about the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Billing Program as an option to increase monthly revenue. The City Clerk uses a manual system to calculate payroll and accounts payable. QuickBooks Pro is used for billing. From July to November, 2006, the previous Clerk utilized QuickBooks consistently. Once the new Clerk receives some training with the software, hopefully this will continue. A majority of the information gathered during the assessment was from manual records. At the advice of RUBA staff, a NEBS cash receipt system was recently purchased for accounts receivable.

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.
No 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
As of March 25, 2008, the City has a small balance due to the Internal Revenue Service.

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 City of Teller is currently insured by the Alaska Municipal League, Joint Insurance Association (AML-JIA) and in good standing for FY 2008. Chapter 75 of the City Code of Ordinances outlines the Personnel Policy. At the request of the City Council, RUBA staff may focus on personnel issues in the work plan. This could include reviewing the policy in more depth to provide a more effective personnel system.

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.
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
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 of Teller is the owner of the Washeteria and sanitation equipment used to haul trash and honey buckets. The seven member City Council is active in policy making for the utility, but has not enforced policy regarding collections of monies owed to the City. The City Clerk assumes the role of Utility Manager and bookkeeper for the utility. Operators of the water treatment plant are employees of the Bering Straits School District. As stated earlier in this report, Chapter 31 of the City Code addresses the rules and regulations necessary to give the City authority to operate. However, while gathering documents for the purpose of this report, RUBA staff located three versions of an ordinance with differing rate schedules and revisions. RUBA staff recommends the City Council review the most recent ordinance during a public meeting.

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
Jonathan Kakaruk is certified Operator in Training for Water treatment and Water distribution. Jonathan is an employee of the Bering Strait School District, who operates the City of Teller Washeteria and Water Treatment Plant. The City distributed the 2006 Consumer Confidence Report on water quality that the RMW assisted them with. At the time of this report, the Teller School and Washeteria meet all required regulations. At the time of this report, the City had completed a 2007 Consumer Confidence Report, but it had yet to be certified by State Department of Environmental Conservation. Maintenance of the washeteria/water treatment plant is provided by Bering Straits School District.