Quarterly Report: 2012, April - June (Q4), Saint Mary's

Community:
Saint Mary's 
Staff:
Fred Broerman  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
First Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Saint Mary's 
Population:
507  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
7/26/2012 
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Saint Mary's manages local water distribution, wastewater collection, and solid waste system services for approximately 150 residential and 20 commercial customers and one institutional customer. The city operates the utility system under a separate enterprise fund that generates revenue through monthly fees. Water is derived from Alstrom Creek reservoir and is treated. Most of the city residents have complete plumbing and are connected to the piped water and sewer system. Waste heat from the power plant supports the circulating water system. A 1.7 million-gallon sewage lagoon provides waste treatment. Approximately six residence owners haul water and use honey buckets; the city provides hauling services. The community is slated for funding for a water system upgrade which will include replacing water mains, hydrants and service lines. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Correspondences were emailed to the city on September 16, December 12 and 29, 2011, February 22, March 6, 16 and 22 and June 6, 2012 requesting documents needed for verification of RUBA essential indicators. At the time of this writing the city has not provided information needed to evaluate all essential indicators. Therefore, the city is no longer in compliance for several essential indicators until documents needed for verification can be provided. As of September 2010, Saint Mary's billing for its water and sewer services has been handled by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's (ANTHC) Billing Assistance Service. The city has expressed interest to ANTHC about becoming a member of Alaska Rural Utility Cooperative. Due to a policy change Crowley is no longer providing fuel storage for the municipality. This leaves the first class city with only a 19,000 gallon capacity for storing heating fuel. This limited storage capacity prevents the city from purchasing needed quantities of fuel at bulk rates from other vendors. Currently the city has capacity to buy and transport small quantities of fuel (around 350 gallons), as needed, from the Crowley's Saint Mary's tank farm at retail prices. On October 27, 2011 Bethel RUBA staff receive email correspondence indicating that the city manager hired in June of 2010 was no longer working for the municipality. By January the city had filled the manager position and by mid February Bethel regional office staff and the new manager were exchanging email correspondences regarding RUBA compliance. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Bethel RUBA staff is willing to work with Saint Mary's administrative staff to help the city with non compliant essential indicators.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
21 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
17 of 26
Total Score:
38 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.
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.
No 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.
No A monthly manager's report is prepared.
N/A Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
A copy of Saint Mary's FY 2012 Operating Budget and accompanying ordinance is on file at the Bethel regional office and it appears to be balanced and realistic. The city did submit minutes from a February 7, 2012 regular council meeting that mentioned the city clerk giving a January financial report but monthly financial reports in a format that are acceptable for RUBA compliance have not been submitted to the Bethel regional office for several quarters. Therefore the third and sixth financial essential indicators were marked 'No' because documents were not provided so a 'Yes' determination could be made. A June 15, 2012 correspondence from Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) indicated the city is current on its electric accounts. The city purchases fuel from Crowley, which has a fuel distribution tank farm located on city property. The city faces fuel storage problems this winter. In April 2011, Crowley gave the city notice that it would no longer provide fuel storage at its Saint Mary's tank farm. Previously, Crowley provided the city with unlimited fuel storage (the city stored up to 32,000 gallons of heating fuel), sold fuel to the city at bulk rates, and delivered fuel to city tanks. The city has capacity to store about 19,000 gallons of diesel #1 but consumes over 70,000 gallons annually. As a result of Crowley's change of policy, the city is now paying nearly forty percent more for the cost of heating fuel from last year. The water and wastewater utility is significantly subsidized by the city's rock crushing operation.

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
There is a collection policy in the city's code of ordinances. A copy of the ordinance is on file at the Bethel regional office. As of September 2010, Saint Mary's billing for water and wastewater services have been handled by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's (ANTHC) Billing Assistance Service. A May 2012 financial summary from ANTHC indicates that the city has an eighty percent year-to-date collection rate for FY2012. The ANTHC report indicates the first three 'Accounting Systems' essential indicators are compliant. The city uses QuickBooks Pro for tracking payroll taxes. A cash receipt journal is used for receiving check and cash payments; transactions are entered into QuickBooks. A copy of the chart of accounts was provided during the June 2010 Assessment. A copy of their procurement policy, Chapter 4.05 was also submitted and is on file. Copies of purchase orders were provided which reflect a pre-approval requirement for purchases. The city has hired a CPA and an accounting firm to get audits completed for FY 2011.

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
A June 14, 2012 email correspondence from the State of Alaska's Department of Labor indicated that the city is current on its Employment Security Contributions and filings through March 30, 2012. The city did not fill out and submit an Authorization to Request Federal Tax Information form to the Bethel RUBA office that was emailed to them on June 6, 2012. Therefore it could not be determined if the tribe is current on its federal tax filings and payments for 2009 through 2012, therefore due to the unknown status of the tribe's federal taxes, two of the 'Tax Problems' essential indicators were marked 'No'. The city was not listed on the March-April 2012 LIEN WATCH: A Review of Small Community Liens.

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.
No The utility has adopted and follows a written personnel evaluation process that ties the job description to the evaluation.
No 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 of St. Mary's is insured by Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association, Inc (AMLJIA). Proof of the workers compensation insurance coverage was verified on the Department of Labor, Worker's Compensation website on July 11, 2012. A 'City of St. Mary's Employee Handbook' was adopted in 1996 and needs to be reviewed and updated. Job descriptions for the following positions have been provided: water and sewer utilities operator and assistant operator for the water and sewer services. A copy of City Ordinance Chapter 2.05 stipulating the powers, duties and responsibilities of the city clerk and city manager is on file. A written hiring process was not found in the Employee Handbook or the city's code of ordinances. The City's June 2010 RUBA Assessment found that the city's personnel files do not contain letters of acceptance; about half the files do not contain applications; and a few files lack I-9s. The city's employee handbook briefly mentions a probationary period for evaluating new employees. Informal interviews with employees during their 2010 assessment indicated training opportunities are provided by the city and staff are encouraged to develop and increase their skills.

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
A copy of Saint Mary's Code of Ordinances Chapter 2.13 Division of Freshwater and Wastewater Utilities System is on file. Billing for their water and wastewater services are handled by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's (ANTHC's) Billing Assistance Service. A May 2012 financial summary from ANTHC indicates that the city has an eighty percent year-to-date collection rate for FY2012 which indicates that city council is enforcing the city's utility policy. The council meets monthly at which time they receive status reports from the city manager and the water and wastewater operator about the utility's equipment, infrastructure and services. The city manager has a B.A. in Public Administration, training certifications in QuickBooks and MS-Excel. She has held city clerk and bookkeeper positions in two rural Alaska municipalities and has sixteen years of banking experience. The city clerk/treasure has worked for the city since December 2010, and served as interim city manager from October-December of 2011. He has a B.A. in Rural Development and an Associate's Degree in Applied Accounting, both from UAF. Saint Mary's water treatment facilities are classified by the State of Alaska as a Water Treatment Class 2, Water Distribution Class 2, Waste Water Lagoon and Wastewater Collection Class 1. The city's utilities director has a Bachelor's Degree in Aquatic Resources and an Associate's Degree in Fisheries Technologies and has worked for the city for sixteen years. He also has the following state certificates: Water Treatment Level 3, Water Distribution Level 2, a Wastewater Treatment Level 1, all expiring on December 31, 2013. He also holds a Wastewater Collection Level 1 Certificate which expires on December 31, 2014. An adopted organization chart for the city government was provided by an interim city manager in May of 2010 which on file at the Bethel RUBA office. City council is active in the policy making of the utility and usually meets at least monthly pursuant to Alaska Title 29. Public notification of meetings and the manner in which they are conducted are in accordance with Alaska's Open Meeting Act or otherwise stated in their local ordinances.

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.
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.
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
Saint Mary's water treatment facilities are classified by the State of Alaska as Water Treatment Class 2, Water Distribution Class 2, Waste Water Lagoon and Wastewater Collection Class 1. The city's utilities director is well qualified; has a Bachelor's Degree in Aquatic Resources and an Associate's Degree in Fisheries Technologies and has worked for the city for sixteen years. He also has the following state certificates: Water Treatment Level 3, Water Distribution Level 2, a Wastewater Treatment Level 1, all expiring on December 31, 2013. He also holds a Wastewater Collection Level 1 Certificate which expires on December 31, 2014. It was not clear whether or not safety meetings are being held. Copies of the 2011 Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) and a certification form signed by the utility director on July 10, 2012 indicating the CCR has been posted and distributed in the community are electronically filed at the Bethel regional office. Saint Mary's is not on the April 2012 Significant Non-Complier list.