Quarterly Report: 2014, April - June (Q4), Buckland

Community:
Buckland 
Staff:
Margaret Hansen  
DCRA Regional Office:
Kotzebue regional office 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
Northwest Arctic Borough 
Agreement?
Yes 
Agreement Date:
5/9/2012 
Entity:
City of Buckland 
Population:
487 2013 DCCED Certified Estimate 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
3/19/2014 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
7/7/2014 
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water for the community is pumped from the Buckland River and stored in a 750,000-gallon tank. It is treated with filtration and chlorination at the old water plant, stored in a 183,000 tank, then pressurized and distributed to the community through a buried piped system. Wastewater is collected though a gravity system and pumped through a one mile force main to a lagoon. The piped water and sewer system is under construction and is being built in phases. There are currently 68 homes, and 23 more will be connected in 2014. In 2015, the water treatment equipment will be installed in the new plant. The new water plant will use a MIEX/pressure filter system and is expected to meet all drinking water requirements including disinfection byproducts. The city continues to operate the washeteria, and watering point. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On April 2, Kotzebue RUBA staff emailed and spoke with the mayor regarding items needed in order to meet the essential indicators of their RUBA assessment. Kotzebue RUBA staff received the signed and completed tax assessments that showed the fourth quarter tax reports were not filed nor paid. The mayor stated, the tax reports were filed and paid. On April 9, Kotzebue staff discussed with the administrator and Mayor Tim Gavin the importance of reconciling their bank statements. Kotzebue staff was given authorization to review three months of bank statements to report back to the mayor and administrator on her findings. Kotzebue staff prepared a worksheet of her findings and forwarded the report on to the city. In May, Kotzebue staff joined a teleconference with the Denali Commission, Army Corp of Engineers, Village Safewater, and the Buckland City Council regarding their phased water and sewer project. Kotzebue staff reported that the City of Buckland currently does not meet one RUBA essential indicator for payroll taxes because they failed to file last quarter tax report and are behind in paying their federal tax deposits after every payroll. At the end of the teleconference, Village Safewater Engineer reported that the project will be put on hold until all RUBA essential indicatos have been met. On May 14, Kotzebue RUBA staff traveled to Buckland to provide on-site training and assistance to the administrator and clerk to improve essential indicators on the RUBA assessment. While on-site, RUBA staff worked with city staff to pay the outstanding tax liabilities via EFTPS, which brought them current. RUBA staff assisted in filing a report for reimbursement from the Northwest Arctic Borough for two quarters of COPS payroll and taxes. RUBA staff also met with the mayor and administrator regarding the budget shortfall and assisting in drafting an amended budget based on the review of the completed April monthly report. In April, the mayor had cut all employees’ hours to half time due to a cash flow crisis. City staff had concerns with the time cuts and leave balances; therefore RUBA staff assisted in drafting two letters to explain the reasoning for the cuts and how leave balances are used per the personal policy. RUBA staff also met with the water plant operator discussing the amended budget, cost to purchase equipment, and supplies needed. RUBA and city staff reviewed the policies and code ordinance that need to be amended to shorten the time that customer bills must be paid and when penalties and interest will be assessed; this will help assure cash flow and the collection rate will increase. RUBA staff attended their monthly regular meeting and gave a presentation on the RUBA assessment and an update on the progress made during the on-site.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Kotzebue RUBA will travel to Buckland this next quarter to make sure they are still meeting RUBA essential indicators.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
23 of 26
Total Score:
49 of 52

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.
N/A Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the budget. In December, the city amended their budget to reflect the increase in revenues and expenses. Monthly financial reports are prepared and submitted to the policy making board. RUBA staff has received the minutes showing the council approved the month of May monthly financial report. Water/wastewater electric bills are current and fuel is purchased as needed. Although they are receiving revenues equal to those budgeted and expenditures are at a level equal to those budgeted, they have not been able to save funds for major repair and replacement costs. The city administrator provides a written monthly report to the council. Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.

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.
No 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 adopted a new collection policy and actively follows it. Customers are billed monthly. The billing clerk provides the council an accounts receivable and payable report and they determine which homes if any will be disconnected per policy. The clerk uses QuickBooks to accurately calculate payroll, cash receipts and cash disbursements. The city has all systems in place to track customers, accounts payable, payroll, incoming cash, and cash disbursements which are kept current utilizing QuickBooks. When items need to be purchased, the clerk completes a check request for the administrator to approve. The administrator checks the latest finance report and any other outstanding purchase orders to determine that there are enough funds in the budgeted line item before approving. The budget items are used as their chart of accounts, which identifies the categories in a reasonable manner. Monthly bank reconciliations have not been completed timely so the city continues to run into a cash flow problem.

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 clerk uses QuickBooks to accurately report and pay all tax liabilities. All quarter tax reports are current and tax deposits are being made timely. The Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor have deemed the City of Buckland compliant.

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 Buckland has workers compensation coverage, which was posted, showing coverage from July 2013 to June 2014 but are waiting to receive an invoice for their FY 15 insurance to be paid with their state revenue sharing funds. Personnel policies were reviewed by their attorney, and their personnel files job descriptions, evaluations and written hiring process followed. All employees had files that include the I-9, job application and acceptance letter. The utility provides training opportunities to staff as needed. Both the administrator and clerk completed a QuickBooks class, RUBA clerk’s class and RUBA financial management class within the last year. Job announcements are posted for at least two weeks for permanent hire, the administrator and council interviews applicants and hire based on merit. Once hired, the applicant fills out the appropriate forms, reviews the job description, reads through the personnel policy, and is placed on a three-month probation. Once the employee completes probation, the administrator then does the probationary evaluation.

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 is the known entity that operates the utility who adopted the necessary ordinances to give it authority. In February 2014, the city had been an ANTHC assisted billing utility, but since has ended that agreement. The council and the public understand that they own and are responsible to operate and maintain all utility facilities. The council is active in enforcing policy who adopted the necessary ordinances to give it authority to operate, and complies with the Open Meetings Act for all meetings. They do have an organizational chart that shows their current structure. The council meets monthly enforcing policies, utilizing a trained manager and clerk who share the bookkeeping tasks per their job descriptions. All three operators are certified.

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".
No 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 utility is on the Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list due to needed upgrades that are pending. The construction of a new water source intake will begin this summer to be able to reduce DBP levels. All operators are certified and attend all trainings that are offered to further their certification. They hold regular safety meetings and provide the administrator and council status reports while operating at the level that was proposed and maintaining inventory and critical parts lists.