Quarterly Report: 2011, July - September (Q1), Ambler

Community:
Ambler 
Staff:
Margaret Hansen  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Ambler 
Population:
278  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
2/2/2011 
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 Department of Environmental Conservation 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, Northwest Alaska Native Association (NANA) has not released any usuage of their gravel as yet. The washeteria project no longer has funding attached since the IRA did not sign for the approval for the pass through funds. The city has applied for an Community Development Block Grant to complete the washeteria but that was not funded. 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. They have laid down pipes to the new lagoon and now waiting for new pumps for the new liftstation so they should have the lagoon open and operating before winter sets in. Next season they will focus on the new water plant building. The Ambler City Council have turned over the water plant operations to Alaska Rural Utilities Collabrative (ARUC)starting August 1st, 2010. ARUC inspected the furnaces for the water plant to make sure they are in good working order and ordered replacement parts as well.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
This last quarter Kotzebue staff assisted the administrator and clerk with their elections, assets that they had on previously owned NANA lands which was transferred over to the Native Village of Ambler tribe. The tribe requested the city remove the quanset hut and equipment. Rural Utility Business Advisory (RUBA) met with NANA who was going to check into the land status. Kotzebue RUBA staff also dicussed their personnel policies and received approval to forward them onto another community wanting to adopt something similiar. The administrator contacted the Kotzebue office this last quarter requesting clarification regarding her sales tax ordinance regarding casual isolated sales which was not defined in the ordinance. We recommended in the future to amend the ordinance to clarity under deifinitions what casual sale includes and advised to see if he has a business license. The Mayor contacted Kotzebue staff to get advice on how to handle an water/sewer employee disciplinary action. I reminded him that they were an ARUC community and to make sure he coordinates this with Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) regarding the incident that damaged their water/sewer system. I also reminded him that he needs to contact Alaska Municipal League (AML)to get legal advice on this personnel issue. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Kotzebue staff will travel to Ambler once they have hired a permanent clerk and provide council training as requested. Kotzebue staff will also coordinate with the Remote Maintenance Worker (RMW) to set up a safety meeting with water plant operator.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
24 of 26
Total Score:
50 of 52

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
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
The city has adopted a realistic buget that they do not need to amend at this time which lists all revenues and expenses for the utility. They are receiving revenues sufficient to cover operating expenses in reviewing their monthly financial report that they submitted to their council on a monthly basis, they show that they are paying their water/wastewater electric bills, purchasing fuel they fly in as needed with their budget reflecting they have funds on hand for the remainder of the year. This utility is under ARUC who has just started a repair and replacement fund. Their report shows that they are receiving revenues equal to those budgeted and expenditures at the level of budget who reports to the council monthly. No budget amendments are necessary at this time.

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 utility has an adopted collection policy that they actively follow who bills customers on a regular basis by ARUC who has an accounting system that tracks customers, accounts payable, purchasing, payroll, cash receipts and cash disbursements by following the chart of accounts adopted in their budget who reconciles the utility account monthly.

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 ARUC system accurately calculates, tracks, and reports payroll tax liabilities who is current in filing all tax reports, makes deposits timely and no know past due tax liabilities at this time according to the completed tax authorization reports from IRS and the Department of Labor.

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 paid in full workers compensation insurance which they posted showing which will remain in effect until July 2011 as verified by AML/JIA. They are using the adopted personnel policy which has been reviewed by AMl which provides a written personnel evaluation process that ties into their adequately written job descriptions. They also follow an adequate written hiring process and has a probationary period for new hires that includes orientation, job training oversite and evaluations. The council also provides training opportunities to staff as needed. the operators attended two training sessions this year and the administrator attended the financial management week long RUBA course this spring.

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 knows and enforces 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 of a year who has been adequately trained who is also the bookkeeper. She attends all the RUBA classes Kotzebue provides. The operators attended two training sessions this last year but unable to pass the exams. They have been on the job in Ambler for over a year so knows the system.

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 operators will continue to attend any and all trainings offered here in the region. They do follow the preventative maintenance plan which helps them from suffering any major problems so it is operating at the level proposed and maintains an inventory control lists and critical spare parts list. They have distributed their completed Consumer Confidence Report. No known safety meetings have been held to date but the manager receives a monthly report from the operators and routinely spot checks the facilities to see that the maintenance are being completed. They are no longer on the SNC list.