Quarterly Report: 2013, October - December (Q2), Ekwok

Robert Madeson  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Ekwok 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Ekwok has a population of 115 and according to Census 2010, there were 51 housing units in the community and 37 were occupied. The city owns and operates a wastewater lift station and lagoon, a retail fuel enterprise, manages a landfill, and provides residential and commercial septic pumping services. According to the City of Ekwok Sewer System Business Plan completed in March of 2011, there are 16 residences serviced by a city owned piped wastewater system. Six residences use a flush and haul water and wastewater system operated by the tribal government. Eleven residents use the septic pumping service provided by the city. In the past, the city operated the communitys electric utility, but it was turned over to Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) in August of 2011. Village Safe Water is working with Ekwok in the planning stages of installing a new wastewater system for the community. The objective of the project will be to install a piped system that will service twenty-five residences, three community buildings, and school. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On November 14 and 15, RUBA staff visited the City of Ekwok to evaluate RUBA essential and sustainable indicators. Shortly after arriving, RUBA staff met with four council members and the city clerk to explain some of the specifics of a RUBA assessment and the importance of RUBA compliance and how its indicators promote 'best business' practices. The city council expressed concern that many residential customers on the piped wastewater system were not making monthly payments for the service. Enforcement of their collections policy is hindered due to the wastewater system not having individual customer shut-offs and delinquent customers cannot be discontinued. After finding out that the city operated a retail fuel sales enterprise, RUBA staff suggested that council members amend city code to require wastewater customers to be current on utility bills before being allowed to purchase fuel from the city's fuel enterprise. Council members agreed that an giving delinquent customers options for getting current, might be a solution to encourage residential wastewater customers to pay their utility bills. RUBA staff worked with city staff to create a financial report spreadsheet tailored to the city's departments and enterprises which meets RUBA standards. While creating the financial report, the city's FY13 budget was reviewed. Several changes to the budget were suggested. Because these changes were significant it was recommended that council include the changes in a budget amendment. RUBA staff also created an organization chart for the municipality, and provided the city administrator with an organization chart resolution for adopting Ekwok's organization chart. RUBA staff collected financial reports from the city's QuickBooks software, reviewed worker's compensation documents, personnel files and interviewed staff to allow the evaluation of RUBA management indicators. RUBA staff has continued to provide assistance on payroll and budget. RUBA staff has discussed billing for utility use which has been met with resistance from the city council.RYBA staff updated Ekwok's RUBA assesment. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will be provide assistance im meeting RUBA's essential and sustainable indicators.
Essential Indicators:
17 of 24
Sustainable Indicators:
10 of 27
Total Score:
27 of 51


Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.
No 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.
No 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.
No 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.
No A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
A copy of the City of Ekwok's FY13 Operating Budget and accompanying ordinance was adopted on July 24, 2012 and is on file in the Dillingham regional office. Meeting minutes from January 2012 through November 2012 were reviewed for this assessment. The city's FY13 budget is not complete; revenues or expenditures for the wastewater utility are not included. QuickBooks is used to manage city finances and payroll. The city has been submitting QuickBooks Profit and Loss Statements for their monthly financial statements which do not meet RUBA standards for compliance. Monthly financial reports should include 'Budgeted', 'Current Month', 'Year to Date', and 'Remaining Balance' columns for each department, grant and project's expenditures and revenues. Therefore, the first two essential indicators of the Utility Finance section of this report have been marked no. RUBA staff worked with the clerk and administrator to create a monthly financial report customized for the city departments and enterprises that complies with RUBA standards. The city's bulk fuel storage capacity consists of two 20,000 gallon tanks, one for diesel and the other for unleaded gas. A December 6, 2012 email exchange with the city administrator indicated that the city had purchased an adequate fuel supply for the winter. A November 30, 2012 phone conversation with Alaska Village Electric Cooperative indicated the city was current on its electric accounts. Ekwok's city council should consider adjusting their wastewater pumping fees to cover costs associated with maintaining equipment and the increased cost of fuel. Since revenues and expenditures for the wastewater utility were not listed in the city budget, it could not be determined that the utility is receiving revenues (user fees or other sources) sufficient to cover operating expenses or repair and replacement costs. Therefore these essential and sustainable indicators have been marked no.

Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility has adopted a collection policy and actively follows it.
No 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.
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.
No 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 is not billing customers nor tracking payments made for the wastewater service. Therefore the first three essential indicators of the Accounting Systems section were marked no. QuickBooks is used to calculate payroll and track city finances such as accounts payables. When payments are received by the city's retail fuel enterprise, the customer receives a receipt and the transaction is entered into QuickBooks under the Bulk Fuel Account. However, a similar collections system is not in place for the wastewater utility and payments are not being tracked. A chart of accounts was provided by the city administrator on November 21, 2012. The city did not provide RUBA staff bank account reconciliations for September or October of 2012. When there is a need to purchase parts, supplies and equipment, the specifics of the purchase (part description, brand and model number etc) along with shipping and freight costs are included in the written request submitted to the city administrator. The city administrator then checks to see if the requesting department has funds to cover the purchase. If there are sufficient funds, the city administrator will submit the order.

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
A January 8, 2011 fax correspondence from IRS Taxpayer Advocate deemed Ekwok compliant with federal tax reporting and deposit requirements. On December 12, 2012 the Alaska Department of Labor (DOL) reported the city compliant with Alaska ESC tax requirements through September 30, 2012. The city was not listed on the September-October 2012 LIEN WATCH: A Review of Small Community Liens.

Personnel System

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has a posted workers compensation insurance policy in effect.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
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.
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.
No 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 provided documentation that it had workers compensation coverage with Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA) through June 30 2013. The city's current personnel policy is outdated. The city clerk is working with AML to update job descriptions. Job descriptions for city administrator, clerk, and fuel attendant are in Chapter 75 of the city's code of ordinances. Job evaluations are tied with employee job performance. The hiring process, an explanation of the 90 day probationary status and evaluation forms are included in Chapter 75 as well. Employee personnel files need updating to include federal I-9 forms, documents confirming training, employee evaluations and a letter of acceptance that includes wages, benefits, the employer's expectations, date of hire, and classification of the job.

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.
No The policy making body enforces utility policy.
Yes The utility has an adequately trained manager.
Yes The utility has an adequately trained bookkeeper.
N/A 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
No 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
A copy of Ekwok's Code of Ordinances is on file at the Dillingham regional office. Chapter 32, which addresses the city's electric utility, needs to be amended to indicate that as of August 2011, Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) took over the operation and management of the community's electric plant. Chapter 36 addresses the water and wastewater system and indicates the city council owns the utility and has adopted rules and regulations necessary to operate it. However, the collection policy found in city code is not being enforced for customers on the piped wastewater system. In January 2012, the administrator for Ekwok Village (the community' tribal entity) volunteered to assume duties as city administrator. He is also serving on city council while holding tribal and city administrator positions. He is in the process of training the city clerk to take over the day-to-day city business. The clerk worked for the city as a fuel clerk for three years before being hired as city clerk. She completed the RUBA sponsored Utility Clerk Training held in Dillingham ancompleted QuickBooks training. State of Alaska Water and Wastewater Operator Certification and Training regulations, 18 AAC 74.006 require certified operators for public and private wastewater systems that have 100 or more service connections or is used or intended for use by 500 or more individuals per day. Since the City of Ekwok' wastewater system does not meet the requirements of 18 AAC 74.006, a certified wastewater operator is not required to operate its wastewater system. When the city' piped wastewater system needs service or repairs they are handled by the city' fuel attendant. An organization chart was created for the city by RUBA staff i November while conducting the managment assessment. The city needs to adopt the organizational chart by resolution. Minutes from city council meetings held from January to November are on file at the Dillingham regional office. The minutes indicate that city council meets 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.

Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
N/A 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
No 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.
No The operator provides status reports to the manager on a routine basis.
No The utility has completed and distributed its "Consumer Confidence Report".
No The utility is not on the "Significant Non-Complier" (SNC) list.
No The utility maintains an inventory control list.
No The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The Water and Wastewater Operator Certification and Training regulations, 18 AAC 74.006 require certified operators for public and private wastewater systems that have 100 or more service connections or is used or intended for use by 500 or more individuals per day. The city of Ekwok's wastewater system does not meet the requirements of 18 AAC 74.006; therefore, a certified wastewater operator is not required to operate the wastewater system. The city's fuel attendant services Ekwok's piped wastewater system as needed. Since service and repairs are needed so infrequently and there is no operator for the piped waste system, the first and fifth sustainable indicators are marked no. However, these indicators are not applicable or necessary for Ekwok's piped waste system. There is a preventive maintenance protocol in the Operations and Maintenance Manual for on-site well, interior plumbing and sewer upgrades for Ekwok, prepared by KAE Inc. in February 2008. Since the residents of the community draw water from private wells, RUBA indicators for the CCR and the SNC list are not applicable. An inventory control list, critical spare parts list or safety section were not found.