RUBA Community Status Report

Community Name: Mekoryuk


Community:

Mekoryuk

RUBA:

Yes

Staff:

Fred Broerman

Agreement:

No

DCA Region:

Bethel

Agreement Date:

Region:

Lower Kuskokwim

Exp Date:

Govt Type(s):

2nd Class City

Borough:

Unorganized

Assessment Date:

8/7/2012

Population:

191

Active Community:

Yes

Date Updated:

10/7/2013


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 HaulĀ® 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
and Activities
this Quarter:

On August 12-15, Bethel RUBA staff provided on-site financial assistance to the City of Mekoryuk. A customized FY14 multi-month financial report compliant with RUBA standards was created for tracking the revenues and expenses for each of the city's departments and enterprises. Bethel staff also arranged for the city administrator to work with Turnagain Press (RUBA contracted QuickBooks technical support) staff to go through the accounts receivable of water and wastewater haul customers. Due to staff turnover in the city office over the years, the customer list for the city's water and waste hauling enterprise contained many duplicate customer entries; residents that no longer resided in town or were deceased. As a result, city staff was not able to generate an accurate accounts receivable aging report which had been negatively affecting the city's RUBA compliance. The city administrator was taught how to merge and delete accounts and review each customer's status so the accounts receivables for the enterprise could be made accurate.

 

Capacity Indicator: Finances

Essential Indicators:

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:

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.

Yes

A monthly manager's report is prepared.

Yes

Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.

Comment:

A copy of the City of Mekoryuk's FY 2014 Operating Budget and accompanying ordinance is on file at the Bethel regional office and it appears to be balanced and realistic. Meeting minutes for June, July and August 2013 were provided and all mentioned city council reviewing and accepting monthly financial reports. The city administrator also provided the Bethel RUBA office with monthly financial reports for all FY13 and through August FY14. The financial reports indicate that the utility is receiving revenues sufficient to cover operating expenses and year to date expenditures and revenues are in line with those budgeted. A September 26, 2013 phone conversation with Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) indicated that the city is current on all its electric accounts. On September 3, 2013, the city received 18,000 gallons of heating fuel from the Seattle Support Center. On September 5, 2013 the administrator indicated the city should have enough heating fuel for the winter of 2013/2014. The city's FY14 budget does not have a repair and replacement line item for the water and sewer department.

 

Capacity Indicator: Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators:

Yes

The utility has adopted a collection policy and actively follows it.

Yes

The utility bills customers on a regular basis.

No

An accounts receivable system is in place which tracks customers and reports past due accounts and amounts.

No

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:

No

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.

Comment:

An electronic copy of 'City of Mekoryuk Water and Sewer Utilities Credit and Collection Policy and Procedures' adopted on November 11, 2009 is on file at the Bethel regional office. 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 water or waste haul until the balance is paid down by $39.65 or $32.50 for seniors. In FY13, the city's water and wastewater department revenues surpassed its expenditures by a significant margin. This indicates that the city is enforcing its collection policy. When cash is received for utility payments, the customer receives a receipt and the transaction is entered into QuickBooks. However, the city has not provided the Bethel RUBA office with an accounts receivable aging statement which would verify that an accounts receivable system is in place which tracks customers and reports past due accounts. The city does not have an accounts payable system in place capable of showing all vendors that money is owed to. A chart of accounts was provided by the city administrator on September 5, 2013. However, categories listed in the chart of the accounts do not mimic the categories found on the FY14 budget so the two can be easily compared. The city's chart of accounts needs streamlined so it is nearly identical to line item budget categories. An in-house check request is required when an employee needs to purchase parts, supplies and equipment. The city provided the Bethel RUBA regional office with statements and reconciliation summaries to its general checking account for July and August 2013. An undated city document titled 'Purchasing Procedures' is on file at the Bethel regional office.

 

Capacity Indicator: Tax Problems

Essential Indicators:

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.

No

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.

Comment:

A September 30, 2013 fax correspondence from IRS indicates the city is not compliant with federal tax payments and reporting requirements for tax year 2009. A September 23, 2013 email correspondence from Alaska Department of Labor's Anchorage office indicates that the City of Mekoryuk is compliant with its Employment Security Tax payments and reporting requirements. The city is not listed on the July-August 2013 LIEN WATCH: A Review of Small Community Liens.

 

Capacity Indicator: Personnel System

Essential Indicators:

Yes

The utility has a posted workers compensation insurance policy in effect.

Sustainable Indicators:

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.

Comment:

On July 24, 2013, the Alaska Department of Labor indicated that the city has workers' compensation insurance for its employees through October 18, 2013 with Alaska National Insurance Company. 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. Documentation that the personnel policy has been adopted by city council has not been provided. Until the Bethel RUBA office is provided with verification that the city's personnel policy has been adopted by city council the first sustainable indicator of this section will be marked 'No'. Written job descriptions for the city administrator, 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 which states: 'The utility has adequate written job descriptions for all positions' is marked 'No'. The city has not provided documentation that it follows a written personnel evaluation process that ties employees' job descriptions to their evaluations, or that it has an adequate written hiring process. 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.

 

Capacity Indicator: Organizational Management

Essential Indicators:

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.

No

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:

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.

Comment:

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 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 water or waste haul until the balance is paid down by $39.65 or $32.50 for seniors. In FY13, the city's water and wastewater department revenues surpassed its expenditures by a significant margin. This indicates that the city is enforcing its collection policy. The city's water treatment plant is classified as a Water Treatment Class I facility. However, the city's washeteria supervisor only has a Small Water System Treated certification. Therefore, the washeteria supervisor will need to pass the Water Treatment provisional test and accrue on-the-job training hours before he can be 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.

 

Capacity Indicator: Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators:

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:

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.

Comment:

The city's water treatment plant is classified as a Water Treatment Class I facility. However, the city's washeteria supervisor only has a Small Water System Treated certification. Therefore, the washeteria supervisor will need to pass the Water Treatment provisional test and accrue on-the-job training hours before he can be 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. An FY 2009-2010 Water and Sewer Inventory Control List is on file at the Bethel regional office. A more recent version should be submitted. The water operator reports to the city administrator on daily facility operations. A copy of the city's 2012 Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) is electronically filed at the Bethel RUBA office along with a certification form signed by the washeteria supervisor on July 22, 2013 indicating the CCR was distributed and posted in the community. The city's water treatment system is not on the July 2013 Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list.

RUBA Activities for the Coming Quarter:

Bethel staff will be working with the municipality's administrative staff to bring the city's RUBA essential and sustainable indicators into compliance.