Quarterly Report: 2013, July - September (Q1), Mekoryuk

Community:
Mekoryuk 
Staff:
Fred Broerman  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Mekoryuk 
Population:
191  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
10/31/2012 
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Mekoryuk has a population of about 215 and manages the water treatment plant and washeteria. In the 1970s the community had an underground piped water system installed that failed due to winter freeze ups. Later the city received an early version of the Cowater Flush Tank and Haul? water and wastewater systems which is still being used in ninety-six homes and eleven commercial establishments. Homes do not have washers and less than half city residences have working baths or showers. Therefore, the washeteria is used by nearly all city residents. The city has a nine million gallon lined reservoir, a hundred and twenty-five thousand gallon water storage tank, and a 4.2 acre wastewater lagoon. The Lower Kuskokwim School District has its own well but uses the city's wastewater lagoon. The city would like to be considered for funding for a piped water and wastewater system.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On June 18-20, 2012 Bethel regional office staff visited the community to conduct a RUBA assessment. While conducting the assessment, Bethel RUBA staff also reviewed the city's FY13 budget and suggested changes, created a new organization chart for the city, and attended a city council meeting. During the council meeting RUBA staff was asked for advice on several matters related to city business. On the second day of the on-site visit Bethel staff was invited to meet with leaders of the Native Village of Mekoryuk. The tribal leaders were interested in the specifics of the RUBA assessment and how the tribe might be able to work with the city on improving the community's water and wastewater system. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Bethel staff will be working with the municipality's administrative staff to bring the city's RUBA essential and sustainable indicators into compliance.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
17 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
15 of 26
Total Score:
32 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.
No 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.
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.
No A monthly manager's report is prepared.
N/A Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
A copy of the City of Mekoryuk's FY 2013 Budget Appropriations Ordinance adopted on July 29, 2012 is on file at the Bethel regional office and it appears to be balanced and realistic. Minutes from council meetings held on June 18 and August 30, 2012 were provided for this report. The August minutes mention monthly financial reports from June and July being reviewed by city council. On October 3, Bethel RUBA office received a monthly financial report from the city. However, the numbers listed for the budgeted FY13 amounts in the monthly financial report do not match those in the city's FY13 budget. Therefore, the monthly financial report essential indicator has been marked 'No' this quarter. A September 24, 2012 email correspondence from Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) indicated that the city had significant amounts 30 and 60 days overdue on its electric accounts. On August 13, 2012, the administrator indicated the city received a 20,000 gallon delivery of heating fuel on July 11 and would have enough heating fuel on hand to cover the city's needs for the winter of 2012/2013. The city's FY13 budget does not have a repair and replacement line item for the water and sewer department. Because meeting minutes were not consistently provided for the last two quarters it could not be determined if monthly manager's reports are prepared and given to the governing body of the utility (city council). A complete manager's report will explain the utility's finances (collection of user fees verses expenses) and point out any problems or trends that need to be addressed.

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.
No 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 Bethel regional office has an unsigned copy of the City of Mekoryuk's Flush Tank Haul and Water Haul Tank System Ordinance 94.04 on file. The city needs to provide the Bethel regional office verification that the ordinance has been adopted. A subsequent ordinance 09-03 Mekoryuk Water, Wastewater and Washeteria 10%, adopted on August 10, 2009 established the city's current rates for water and wastewater hauls. According to the administrator the city has established an unwritten policy that if a residential account for water and wastewater services has a balance over $79.30 (the cost of two water or wastewater hauls) the city will not provide the next water or waste haul until the balance is paid down by $39.65 or $32.50 for seniors. However, an accounts receivable aging report submitted on October 3, 2012 for June, July, August indicates that the city has $32,000 in customer payments 31-60 days past due. Also the city has not provided verification that their flush tank and haul ordinance has been adopted. Therefore the first essential indicator of this section 'The utility has adopted a collection policy and actively follows it' had to be marked 'No'. When cash is received for utility payments, the customer receives a receipt and the transaction is entered into QuickBooks. Judging from the problems the city is having with their payroll taxes (see Tax Problems below) the essential indicator that states: 'The payroll system correctly calculates payroll and keeps records' was marked 'No'. The city has not provided RUBA staff with verification that its bank accounts had been reconciled since April 2012. A chart of accounts was provided by the city administrator on July 24, 2012. A check request is required when an employee needs to purchase parts, supplies and equipment. All the specifics of the purchase (part description, brand and model number etc) along with shipping and freight costs are included in the written request. The check request is then submitted to the city administrator who checks to see if the requesting department has funds to cover the purchase.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
Yes 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 did not fill out and return a federal tax information release form emailed to them on September 14, 2012. But a June 15, 2012 fax correspondence from IRS Taxpayer Advocate states that the city has significant (over $10, 000) outstanding federal 941 taxes from the fourth quarter of 2010 through the first quarter of FY 2012. A September 24, 2012 email correspondence from Alaska Department of Labor's Anchorage office indicates that the City of Mekoryuk is compliant filing its Employment Security Tax reports. The city is not listed on the July-August 2012 LIEN WATCH: A Review of Small Community Liens. Therefore, since the city has not returned this quarters federal tax release and the city has outstanding federal 941 tax liabilities the 'Tax Problems' essential indicator that states 'The utility is current on making tax deposits' has been marked 'No'. A July 31, 2012 phone conversation with an IRS revenue officer in Soldotna, Alaska indicated the city had recently signed a repayment agreement, no further details were available.

Personnel System

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has a posted workers compensation insurance policy in effect.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
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.
No 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
A September 24, 2012 query done on the Department of Labor's Worker's Compensation employer database indicates that the city has workers' compensation insurance for its employees through Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association. A copy of City of Mekoryuk Utility Policies and Procedures (the city's personnel policy) revised on August 10, 2009 is electronically filed at the Bethel regional office. However, RUBA staff has not been provided documentation that the personnel policy has been adopted by city council. Until Bethel regional office is provided with this documentation most of the sustainable indicators in this section cannot be marked 'Yes'. Written job descriptions for the city administrator, a bookkeeper, and washeteria supervisor were provided on July 24, 2012. But job descriptions for the maintenance supervisor, assistant and alternate operators and the washeteria attendants were not provided. Therefore, the sustainable indicator of this section that states: 'The utility has adequate written job descriptions for all positions' was marked 'No'. Not including city council members, the city of Mekoryuk has about 12 employees. On June 18, 2012, Bethel RUBA staff reviewed three of the city's employee personnel files. None of the three folders had the employee's application or a letter of acceptance and one of them did not have an I-9. For RUBA compliance all personnel files should contain the employee's application file, letter of acceptance (that includes the wages, benefits, expectations of the employer, classification of job, and date of hire) and a completed federal I-9 form. The city has sent its administrative staff to several RUBA sponsored trainings during the last two years and arranged an on-site training and certification tests for water plant employees in late June of 2011 by Tim Anderson from University of Alaska Southeast.

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.
No 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
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 Bethel regional office has an unsigned copy of the City of Mekoryuk's Flush Tank Haul and Water Haul Tank System Ordinance 94.04 on file. The city needs to provide the Bethel regional office verification that the ordinance has been adopted. A subsequent ordinance 09-03 Mekoryuk Water, Wastewater and Washeteria 10%, adopted on August 10, 2009 established the city's current rates for water and wastewater hauls. A more recent ordinance '2012-03 Mekoryuk Washeteria Increase' adopted on June 18, 2012 establishes new rates for washeteria services. According to the administrator the city has established an unwritten policy that if a residential account for water and wastewater services has a balance over $79.30 (the cost of two water or wastewater hauls) the city will not provide the next haul until the balance is paid down to $39.65 or $32.50 for seniors. But an accounts receivable aging report submitted on October 3, 2012 for June, July, August indicates that the city has $32,000 in customer payments 31-60 days past due. Also the city has not provided verification that their flush tank and haul ordinance has been adopted. Since it could not be verified that the city has an adopted utility ordinance in place the third and fifth essential indicators of the Organization Management had to be marked 'No'. On August 30, Mekoryuk's lead water plant operator submitted his resignation to city council. The remaining operator has only a Small Water System Treated Certificate. The city's water treatment plant is classified as a Water Treatment Class I facility. The remaining water plant operator will need to pass the Water Distribution and Water Treatment provisional certificates and accrue on-the-job training hours before his is certified to the level of the city's water plant. On August 30, 2012 city council adopted by resolution an updated organization chart for the municipality which is electronically filed at the Bethel regional office. City council attempts to meet 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 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.
No The utility maintains an inventory control list.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
On August 30, Mekoryuk's lead water plant operator submitted his resignation to city council. The remaining operator has only a Small Water System Treated Certificate. The city's water treatment plant is classified as a Water Treatment Class I facility. The remaining water plant operator will need to pass the Water Distribution and Water Treatment provisional certificates and accrue on-the-job training hours before his is certified to the level of the city's water plant. A Draft Operation and Maintenance (OM) Manual dated March 2012 is electronically filed at the Bethel regional office. The OM Manual contains a preventative maintenance plan and a critical spare parts list. The water operator reports to the city administrator on daily facility operations. A copy of the city's 2011 Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) is electronically filed at the Bethel RUBA office along with a certification form signed by the water plant supervisor on July 13, 2012 indicating the CCR was distributed and posted in the community. The city's water treatment facility was not on the July 2012 Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list.