Quarterly Report: 2009, April - June (Q4), Ambler

Margaret Hansen  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Ambler 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The main source of water for the community is a 167' well near the Kobuk River. Water is pumped 940 feet to the treatment facility and stored in a 210,000-gallon insulated tank, then piped to most homes. An 80' standby well is also located at the water treatment plant. Sewage is collected via six and eight inch arctic pipes and flows to a facultative lagoon through two lift stations where it discharges to a natural watershed, then the Kobuk River. Last year the city had to file an DEC accidental discharge/spill notification report due to a leak in their sewage lagoon. They repaired it using 40 sand bags and hauled frozen leakage to the dump site. Currently, 53 homes are served by the piped water and sewer system. Funds have been requested to connect the remaining 13 homes and offices to the piped system. A new water treatment plant, washeteria, and sewage lagoon have been funded. The landfill is not permitted. Here is the status of the projects: The plans for the sewage lagoon, lift station, and force main are complete. The intent was to finish construction of these during the summer 2006 but due to asbestos in the gravel, NANA has not released any usuage of their gravel as yet. It has been reported that the washeteria project is on hold because the IRA will not sign for the approval for the funds ANTHC found another $125,000.00 to complete the project. The Water Treatment Plant design is 100% complete. Right now the city is waiting to hear from ANTHC whether or not other projects funds from the south loop extension can be reallocated for the water treatment plant, sewage lagoon and washeteria projects. The sewage lagoon project started last fall and is scheduled to be completed this fall.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Kotzebue RUBA staff traveled to Ambler on 9-11, 2009 to provide on site training and assistance to the administrator in creating her first budget and certified financial report. RUBA also provided training on bank reconciliations, monthly financial reports and updated the RUBA management assessment which she reviewed with the administrator.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will continue to work with the administrator and clerk in meeting the sustainable indicators as presented this next quarter. RUBA staff would also like to travel to provide training and assistance to the administrator in installing quickbooks which they recently received training on here in Kotzebue.
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
24 of 26
Total Score:
50 of 52


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
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.
N/A Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
Although the administrator is keeping up with her monthly reports in comparison to her realistic budget which list all the revenues and expenses for the utility, for the month of May she had formula problems which I trained her how to fix. She shows that there are enough revenues to cover operating expenses but do not have a repair and replacement fund to cover unplanned emergencies. She reported at the council meeting showing that they are receiving enough revenues to cover their expenses. The city is now on a payment plan with AVEC owing $41,000.00. The balance at the time she receives her revenue sharing will be paid in its entirety. The city has funds set aside in a seperate account to purchase fuel as needed.

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 council meets monthly so sctively follows their collection policy making sure the customers are billed on a regular basis. The administartor had noticed the delinquent customers about their water/sewer policies discussing the disconnection of delinquent customers during her regular monthly bills they send out. The council authorized hire of laborers to help disconnect those still delinquent by time of council meeting. The city uses the Norhtwest Arctic Borough accounting system which tracks accounts receivable, payable's, payroll and cash disbursements using a chart of accounts(their budget), which they reconcile on a monthly basis. When an expense to line items identifed are requested, the clerk uses a purchase order using a check request requiring approval of the administrator who reviews the latest monthly financial report and current expenditure as well as amount of funds in the account before approving the purchase.

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.
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
The utility uses the Northwest accounting system which accurately calculate, track and report payroll tax liabilities which she keeps current with deposits after each payroll.

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
We completed an estimated payroll for her workmen's compensation new policy beginning July 1 which she has received and posted. They still are using the adopted personnel policies that were reviewed by their lawyer and AML. They still had a file with all their job descriptions, with evaluations completed. They follow their written hiring process with a three month probationary period with some orientation, on the job training. The files had evaluations of past employees, I-9 forms with Job application and letter of acceptance. The administrator and new clerk attended the last RUBA training opportunity and has budgeted for travel and perdiem for other training opportunities that may arise.

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 City Council understands that they own the utility and actively enforces the policies. Who complies with the open meetings Act meeting regularly. The council passed the organizational structure around 10 years ago which has not changed. The administrator has been trainined by RUBA for the past six months who is doing a very good job including the new city clerk. Both divide the bookkeping duties keeping up with all the required processes. The operators are not certified, but are adequately trained to perform their duties.

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
The water plant operator and alternate are actively working towards their certification. The main operator has worked for the city for the past two years so knows the system well and has kept them off the SNC list following their preventative maintenance plan. The utility is operating a the level of service as proposed with the operators providing the administrator reports on a routine basis who maintains an inventory and critical spare parts list. Now that Maniilaq has hired a new Remote Maintenance Worker, we are hopefully that he will assit the operators to hold safety meetings following their safety manual.