Quarterly Report: 2014, October - December (Q2), Buckland

Community:
Buckland 
Staff:
Margaret Hansen  
DCRA Regional Office:
Kotzebue 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
Northwest Arctic Borough 
Agreement?
Yes 
Agreement Date:
5/9/2012 
Entity:
City of Buckland 
Population:
457 (2012 DCCED certified estimate) 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
5/9/2012 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
1/7/2014 
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 smaller tank, then pressurized and distributed to the community through a buried piped system. The Corps of Engineers (COE) is planning to provide a new water intake. Wastewater goes through a gravity system and pumped through a one mile force main to a lagoon. A piped water and wastewater system delivering drinking water directly to homes is under construction and is being built in phases. The downtown water main loop is complete, and work has started on the midtown/uptown loop in 2013. Fifty homes, the clinic, the native store, and city office now have piped service. Various parts of town will come online in phases each year through 2014, pending adequate funding. Plans are being developed to treat the water in the new plant to meet all drinking water standards including disinfectant byproduct (DBP) levels. Residents are charged for piped water and wastewater service through the assisted billing program with Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the collection rate is excellent. Residents who do not have piped service yet continue to haul drinking water from a central watering point and use honeybuckets to dispose of wastewater. The community has a central washeteria, which is a combination laundromat, toilet, shower facility, and a watering point. The water plant and washeteria utilize waste heat extensively. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
This quarter RUBA staff reviewed utility financial reports as part of an effort to determine the utility bill collection rate to date. RUBA staff also reiterated the need for the city to update their monthly financial reports in order to have a more accurate picture of current utility finances. Further, RUBA staff communicated with city staff to plan a visit to the community in order to conduct a utility management assessment and update financial information whenever possible. This quarter RUBA staff also worked with utility staff to make formula corrections in electronic financial files. One of Buckland’s utility operators successfully completed the 32-hour RUBA Organizational Management for Rural Utilities training in Anchorage in December 2013. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff plans to visit Buckland to conduct a utility management assessment and update financial information in January as weather permits. RUBA staff will also continue to work with utility staff to meet sustainable indicators and follow through with goals on identified in its work plan.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
27 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
25 of 26
Total Score:
52 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.
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
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.
N/A Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the balanced realistic budget adopted appropriately by non-code ordinance. RUBA staff has received copies of council meeting minutes and the latest monthly finance reports that the council approved. The reports show that the community is current in paying all water/wastewater electric bills and has a financial plan to purchase an adequate supply of fuel. A review of financial reports also shows that no budget amendment is necessary at this time. The utility is receiving enough revenue to cover operating expenses and has budgeted for minor emergencies caused by any problems with the water/wastewater utility. Currently, the utility is receiving revenues above those budgeted and expenses are at a level equal to those budgeted. There is an approximately 81 percent utility bill collection rate. A written manager’s report is provided to the council at their monthly meetings.

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 has adopted and actively follows a utility bill collection policy and bills customers on a monthly basis. They are on an assisted billing program with Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) which documents an 81 percent collection rate. The city utilizes QuickBooks, which correctly calculates payroll, income, and accounts payable. Before purchases are made, staff checks the budget (which is their chart of accounts) and reviews the reconciled monthly financial report before approving expenditures.

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.
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 IRS and the State's Department of Labor and Workforce Development have confirmed that the city has filed reports and paid all tax liabilities. No past due liabilities or tax liens are recorded.

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 has a workers’ compensation insurance polity through the Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA) valid through to June 30, 2014. The city has already paid in full for the full year of insurance. The city also has an adopted personnel policy that was reviewed by an attorney. Job descriptions are used when evaluating staff in accordance with that written personnel policy, allowing staff to grow professionally by providing training opportunities as needed. The council has budgeted for a council member and a staff member to attend the next RUBA class offered in Kotzebue before the end of this fiscal year. The utility follows the hiring process outlined in the adopted personnel policy. When a new employee is hired, they are provided job orientation and oversight, especially during the probationary period, to assure a smooth transition. Personnel files contain all necessary documentation such as a completed I-9 form, job application, and letter of acceptance.

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 governing body, the city council, has adopted the necessary ordinances to give it the utility the authority to operate the community’s sanitation services. The council is the known entity that is operating the new water/wastewater system and it is active in enforcing utility policy. The council meets monthly and follows the Open Meetings Act for all meetings. Buckland's city administrator is experienced, having worked for the city in the past as well as the local tribe. The administrator and the clerk have both successfully completed QuickBooks training and the RUBA Financial Management for Rural Utilities course. The clerk has completed the RUBA Utility Clerk training and an operator has completed the RUBA Organizational Management training. All three recognized operators are appropriately certified and regularly attend training sessions to further their credentials. An organizational chart has been adopted that reflects the current structure.

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 primary operator holds Level 2 Water Treatment certification and is provisionally certified in water distribution and wastewater collection. The utility also has two alternate operators. One holds Level 1 certification in water treatment, water distribution, and wastewater collection; the other is provisionally certified in both water treatment and water distribution. The primary operator is working with the superintendent of the new water/wastewater project to develop a preventative maintenance plan for the new project. The facilities are spot checked to assure that maintenance tasks are being completed as necessary. Safety meetings are being held daily as the project progresses. There have been no outages due to management issues and the utility is operating at the level proposed. The operator meets with the administrator daily and maintains an inventory and critical spare parts list. The October 2013 Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list notes that the system is still having problems with high DPBs, but is doing well in monitoring them. The system has a copper first draw action level exceedance. A water treatment study report was received by Alaska State Department of Environmental Conservation on July 9, 2012. This report identifies the water treatment technology needed to treat Buckland's water. As of May 2013, 35 percent of the design for new treatment was not yet complete. A report on water treatment alternatives expected in January 2014.