Quarterly Report: 2007, July - September (Q1), 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:
11/29/2006 
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:
RUBA traveled to New Stuyahok August 10-11 to assist city staff with resolution of deficient RUBA Assessment indicators. The city made little progress during the quarter in resolving indicators but did however share a copy of the signed water/sewer utility ordinance. The city continues efforts to enforce collections; roughly 40 customers are behind on current water/sewer bills and the total outstanding customer debt remains high. RUBA recommends the school be charged a metered rate and that a new rate analysis be conducted. The city owes the IRS for prior quarter's federal withholding taxes and is making periodic payments on the debt. The city continues participating in ANTHC's utility billing service at $350/month. Concerning budgets and reports, the latest monthly report provided to RUBA dated June 2006 listed $9,700 in revenue; expenditures were absent from the report and it is expected to be rewritten. Concerning the city's FY 2007 water/sewer budget, RUBA suggested addition of water quality testing and the ANTHC billing services costs. Unsatisfied sanitation grant conditions including deficient RUBA Assessment indicators may impact the funding and timing of the city's sanitation projects but the city is making efforts to address them. Concerning the sanitation project business plan, which is a grant condition, RUBA suggested the city maintain contact with ANTHC to ensure a plan and method to satisfy this requirement is in place. Concerning personnel, critical city positions saw turnover during the quarter. The City Administrator left for another role outside the community and two water operators reportedly resigned late in the quarter. The prior City Administrator, Mitch Chocknok, passed away days before returning to city employment as a part time administrator. The primary water operator was promoted to Plant Manager and continues assuming more administrative responsibilities partly as a result of turnover in the administrator role. The manager's willingness to learn new skills bodes well for the utility's future success. Two applicants are presently being interviewed for the administrator role. RUBA traveled to New Stuyahok a second time during the quarter, August 23-25, 2006, with staff from State of Alaska Legislative Affairs, the Office of the Governor, and the executive director of the Southern Governor's Association. The visit was spearheaded by the Director of the Division of Community Advocacy (DCA) to increase awareness of the RUBA program and rural issues. In other city matters, staff sought assistance from RUBA with landfill management inquiries, a fire department ordinance, personnel, elections preparation, grant planning, and payroll processing. RUBA continues to encourage the city to explore revenue generating options including a sales tax. Concerning land, State DNR approved the city's request for gravel from the river; the city plans to use the gravel to improve access to residential housing lots. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
The city is reviewing a draft RUBA work plan with a focus on resolution of deficient RUBA Assessment indicators. RUBA will maintain contact and provide ongoing assistance.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
18 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
21 of 27
Total Score:
39 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.
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 city drafted a water/sewer budget and upon review, RUBA recommended the addition of critical items including anticipated expenditures associated with billing service fees and water quality testing. RUBA indicators associated with the budget can be resolved upon receipt of a balanced, realistic budget. At last report, the utility was behind on electric bills. Utility past due debt exceeds $160,000. Revenues this quarter were expected to surpass expenditures however, RUBA awaits confirmation. The June 2006 report was the latest report provided by the city, but the report was incomplete - it did not list expenditures, so the city may not be receiving revenues sufficient to cover utility expenses. Utility revenues, the largest source of city revenue, are being allocated to the utility and to other city operations. RUBA urged submittal of financial statements to ensure access to FY 2007 state energy funding.

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
The utility's past due debt continues to grow. During the quarter the city terminated a contract with a collections agency. The city may be able to capture more past due debt if it continues to enforce collections consistently. The utility bills consistently via ANTHC's billing service. The city provided RUBA with a signed water/sewer ordinance which includes a well-written collection policy. The Plant Manager is covering for the vacant city administrator role and is gaining proficiency with QuickBooks accounting software. Staff's use of QuickBooks for payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and cash disbursement tracking is satisfactory.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has a system to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities.
No 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
In recent quarters, state and federal tax reporting and payments fell behind but staff are making periodic payments. In late August the IRS confirmed the city owes federal taxes for prior quarters. Staff should ensure a payment plan is place with the IRS to faciliate timely payment of debt and to minimize penalties.

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 worker's compensation insurance policy that states coverage is valid through July 1, 2007. The city plans to pay for the AMLJIA coverage upon receipt of state energy funding. The Mayor and staff are attentive to personnel policies, filing, and expressed interest in training opportunities including RUBA courses.

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.
No 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
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 Regulatory Commission of Alaska granted a Provisional Certificate for the water and sewer utility in recent quarters. The City Administrator resigned mid-quarter and the City Clerk serves on a call-in basis only. The Plant Manager, a certified water operator, is assuming more responsibilities and is covering for vacant positions. The Plant Manager has some training in bookkeeping but is not yet proficient. Two backup water operators resigned late in the quarter - critical positions that should be filled as soon as possible.

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, all repaired according to the city. Utility staff maintain a preventative maintenance plan and maintain contact with ANTHC engineers and BBAHC RMW staff. The Plant Manager also serves as a city council member. He submitted the Consumer Confidence Report early in the quarter.