Quarterly Report: 2014, July - September (Q1), 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:
554  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
10/10/2013 
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Saint Mary's is the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta's only first class city and manages the community's piped water and wastewater and solid waste system services for approximately 150 residential and 20 commercial customers. Water is derived from Alstrom Creek reservoir and treated at the city's water plant. Most of the city residents have complete plumbing and are connected to the piped water and wastewater system. Approximately six residence owners haul water and use honeybuckets; the city provides hauling services. Waste heat from the power plant supports the circulating water system. A 1.7 million-gallon wastewater lagoon provides waste treatment. During the summers of 2010 through 2012, the city's water distribution system was upgraded which included replacing water mains, hydrants and service lines. During the winter of 2012/2013, the filtering media of the city's water treatment plant is being renewed and an air scour/ bubbler installed. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
The City of Saint Mary's RUBA assessment was finalized and distributed on July 12, 2013. The city scored very well on the assessment being compliant with 25 of 26 RUBA essential indicators and 24 of 27 sustainable indicators. While writing the assessment RUBA staff informed administrative staff about federal tax problems the city had from September 2012 they were not aware of. The city manager took prompt action to resolve the tax problems. However, as of this writing the city is not yet compliant with federal payroll tax requirements. The city subsidizes its water and waste water utility through its gravel crushing enterprise. However, city council recently passed an ordinance to incrementally raise residential rates over a three year period with the intent of making the water utility sustainable. The city manager attended a 32 hour RUBA sponsored Personnel Management training held in Anchorage from September 9-13, 2013. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Bethel RUBA staff will work with Saint Mary's administrative staff to help the city with non-compliant indicators.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
24 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
24 of 27
Total Score:
48 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.
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.
Yes The utility is receiving revenues (user fees or other sources) sufficient to cover operating expenses.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
Yes 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.
Yes Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
A copy of Saint Mary's FY14 Budget Ordinance adopted on June 10, 2013 is on file at the Bethel regional office. The budget appears to be balanced and realistic. The city's water and wastewater utility's expenses are subsidized by the city's gravel enterprise. Therefore, the city's entire budget was reviewed for RUBA compliance and it appears to be balanced and realistic. On July 1, 2013, the city raised its piped water and wastewater residential rates to $109 a month. This is the second of three rate increases scheduled for three consecutive years pursuant to an ordinance passed on June 5, 2012 which increases monthly rates fifteen dollars each year. The ordinance demonstrates city council's intent to eventually have the municipality's water utility self-sustaining. The city provided minutes from regular council meetings held from June through August 2013 for this report. They mention monthly financial reports being reviewed by city council. The city's water and wastewater utility FY14 budget includes a $13,000 appropriation for repair and replacement fund. A September 30, 2013 phone conversation with Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) indicated that the city has a significant balance 30 days past due on its accounts. Bulk fuel deliveries from Ruby Marine were made durning the summer and fall of 2013 for adequate heating fuel for the winter of 2013/2014. Fuel payments are being made with city funds without loans and the city's account with Ruby Marine is in good standing. Manager reports are documented in council meeting minutes and are provided by the city manager and the utility director.

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.
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 city's collection policy is found within Chapter 2.13 of the city's code of ordinances. A copy of the ordinance is on file at the Bethel regional office. Since September 2010, Saint Mary's billing for water and wastewater services has been handled by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's (ANTHC) Billing Assistance Service. A Financial summary from ANTHC through August 2013 shows the city's year-to-date collection rate for (federal) FY13 at eighty-nine percent. This indicates that the city is enforcing its collection policy. The ANTHC Billing Assistance report verifies the second and third 'Accounting Systems' essential indicators are compliant. The city uses QuickBooks Pro for tracking payroll taxes. The city's chart of accounts was reviewed during the May 20-23, 2013 site visit. July and August 2013 bank statements and QuickBooks reconciliations were provided for this report. A copy of the city's procurement policy, Chapter 4.05 is on file at the Bethel regional office. All purchases require initial approval by the city manager who compares proposed purchases to budgeted amounts. Checks are signed by two council members; purchase orders and invoices, which the checks are to pay, are reviewed before checks are signed. The municipality is classified as a first class city by the State of Alaska and therefore hires a CPA firm to complete its annual audits.

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
A September 23, 2013 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 June 30, 2013. However, a correspondence from the IRS dated September 24, 2013 indicates that the city owes federal taxes from September 2012. Therefore, because the city is not current on their federal tax requirements, the essential indicator that states: 'The utility is current on making tax deposits' is marked 'No'. However, the City of Saint Mary's was not listed on the July-August 2013 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). A June 24, 2013 phone conversation with AMLJIA indicated that the city had renewed its policy for FY14. The 'City of St. Mary's Employee Handbook', adopted in 1996, is on file at the Bethel regional office. Job descriptions for water and sewer/utility director and assistant operator for the water and wastewater services are on file at the Bethel regional office. Copies of City Ordinance Chapter 2.05 and 2.09 stipulating the powers, duties and responsibilities of the city clerk and city manager are also on file. Examples of evaluations that tie an employee's performance to his job description have not been provided. During the May 20-23, 2013 RUBA assessment, a written hiring process was not found in the Employee Handbook or the city's code of ordinances. However, the city manager was provided with an example of a written hiring protocol and intends to incorporate it into the Employee Handbook when updated. The city's personnel files all contained federal I-9 forms. However, not all the files contained job applications or letters of acceptance that included wages, benefits, expectations of the employer, classification of job, and date of hire. The city manager asked how she could meet this sustainable indicator for long term employees whose files did not contain their original application or a letter of acceptance. Bethel staff advised the manager to draft an agreement that included the employee's current job description and date of hire, current wages, expectations of the employer, along with signature and date lines for both the employee and their supervisor. When the signed agreements are provided to RUBA staff, compliance for the 'The utility has personnel folders on every employee that contain at least: I-9, Job Application and Letter of Acceptance' sustainable indicator will be considered. The city's employee handbook briefly mentions a probationary period for evaluating new employees. Informal interviews with employees during December 16-19, 2012 and May 20-23, 2013 visits indicated training opportunities are provided by the city and staff is 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. Billings and collections for their water and wastewater services are handled by Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's (ANTHC's) Billing Assistance Service. A Financial summary from ANTHC through August 2013 shows the city's year-to-date collection rate for (federal) FY13 at eighty-nine percent. This indicates that the city is enforcing its collection 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/treasurer has five years administrative experience through working for Pitka's Point's tribal and corporation offices. She has taken introduction and advanced QuickBooks classes as well as grant writing training. Saint Mary's water treatment facilities are classified by the State of Alaska as a Water Treatment Class 1, Water Distribution Class 2, Wastewater 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 over eighteen 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. The city's assistant operator has a Small Water System Treated certificate that expires December 31, 2015, but needs further state certifications for operating the city's water facility. On June 12, 2013, Bethel staff worked with the city manager, over the phone, to update the municipality's organization chart. The organization chart was adopted by resolution on July 2, 2013 and a copy is electronically filed 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 council meetings and the manner in which they are conducted are completed in accordance with Alaska's Open Meeting Act or otherwise stated in city 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.
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 city's utility director provided RUBA staff with preventive maintenance schedules from April, May and June 2013 and inventory control and critical spare parts lists from June 2013, which are on file at the Bethel regional office. Saint Mary's water treatment facilities are classified by the State of Alaska as Water Treatment Class 2, Water Distribution Class 2, Wastewater 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 over eighteen 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. The city's assistant operator has a Small Water System Treated certificate that expires December 31, 2015, but needs further state certifications for operating the city's water facility. The utility director provided written operator reports for February and March 2013 which are also documented in council meeting minutes. Volume 3 of the Operations and Maintenance Manual for the Saint Mary's Water Treatment Facility, prepared by CE2 Engineers, Inc in April of 2000, covers the safety measures for the utility's facilities. The utility director holds safety meetings but not at regularly scheduled times. Copies of the city's 2012 Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) and a certification form signed by the utility director on July 1, 2013 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 July 2013 Significant Non-Complier list.