Quarterly Report: 2010, January - March (Q3), 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 no longer has funding attached since the IRA did not sign for the approval for the funds. The city has applied for an Community Development Block Grant to complete the washeteria. The Water Treatment Plant design is 100% complete. The city used the funds that was previously allocated for the south loop extension for the water treatment plant and sewage lagoon projects due to increased costs because of the hold up on the gravel situation. The sewage lagoon project is scheduled to be completed next summer if all goes well.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Kotzebue RUBA staff traveled to Ambler January 13, 2010 to provide on site training and assistance on year end financial management and council training on roles and responsibilities using the RUBA Elected Officials training material. The city council is also the utility board for Ambler. In March, the city administrator contacted Kotzebue RUBA to state that the city council had to cut city staff hours worked and staff pay by $2/hr. They have had residential water/wastewater freezing problems requiring overtime for the operators and are using twice as much labor as they budgeted. RUBA advised the administrator to hold a public hearing to do a budget amendment for athorization of the changes. RUBA also recommended a rate analysis for possible rate increase and review the ordinance to see where the homeowner responsibility begins. The city needs to bill homeowners for work done to repair or thaw homeowner lines. It may be necessary to talk to the water operators to explain the situation regarding the cash flow problem. THe operators also need to use the work order forms provided in the RUBA utility management class to ensure home owners sign for their liability. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Kotzebue RUBA will travel to Ambler to provide financial management training and budgeting to the staff and council in May 2010.
Essential Indicators:
22 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
23 of 27
Total Score:
45 of 53


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.
No YTD expenditures are at a level equal to or below those budgeted.
Yes A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
Although the city has all the revenues and expenses listed in their balanced realistic budget, is current in paying all utiliy bills, has funds available to continue to fly fuel as needed, the monthly financial report and manager's report for the month of February showed that their expenses for the water/sewer department were over the budget so the council recommended to amend the budget. It turns out that they had lift station problems and a few customer line freeze up's which took them longer than anticipated to fix. RUBA reiterated to the administrator to make sure the operators use the work order form and explain to the customers what they have to pay for.

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 used the adopted collection policy that they actively follow billing customers monthly. They use a cash receipts to record onto customer ledger sheets that they use to provide accurate accounts payable system then onto the monthly financial report to track how money was received and spent including payroll once reconciled monthly. They utilize their budget for their chart of accounts. The budget and monthly financial report as well as outstanding purchase orders are used before purchases are approved.

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.
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 indicators are marked no until the Kotzebue RUBA receives the signed IRS release authorization form to get updated information but at this time they are no on the tax lien report and the administrator reports that they have been deposited and paying their tax liability and we filed her December quarterly report in January.

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 posted their AML insurance policy including workmen's compensation which they paid in full until July 2010. The city would like to update their personnel policy which they adopted using the AML model and had an attorney review which they follow to hire, evaluated and include necessary paperwork to complete the file. The City Administrator provides job orientation, oversight and evaluates once probationary period has been met and assures that they attend all available training as needed. They have had no changes in job descriptions that are on file.

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.
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
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 knows and follows policy in order to effectively run their utility complying with the open meetings act meeting monthly. They have adopted an organizational chart that reflects their current structure showing that the adequately trained administrator who oversees all staff of the oranization following the ordinances necessary that they adopted to give it the authority. The administrator trained the new clerk her bookkeeping functions mainly payroll but does most of the bookkeeping herself as trained by RUBA.

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 two new operators who attended the training here in Kotzebue in January did not pass so they have plans to attend the small water and waster water training class in Kotzebue here in April who will be trained as well in following their preventative maintenance plan. They have not been trained or held any safety meetings as yet but maintains an inventory and critical spare parts list. The main operator provides a monthly written report to the administrator who routinely spot checks the facilities. They have not suffered any major problems and are operating at the level of service proposed. They are currently on the SNC list because last stage 1 violation for July 2009.