Quarterly Report: 2010, July - September (Q1), Galena

Jeremy Johnson  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
First Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Galena 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water is derived from wells and is treated. Twenty-eight residences and the school are connected to a piped water and sewer system. There are 110 households that use a flush/haul system, 20 households use honeybuckets, and others have individual septic tanks. Construction of a water treatment system and storage tank are underway. An additional 70 homes are being added to the piped water system. Refuse collection and landfill service are provided by the City. The City began operating the landfill, located on the former Campion AFS grounds, in 1997. Improvements are complete. There is a 200,000 gallon reservoir and a community leach field.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Fairbanks RUBA staff Jeremy Johnson and Brendan Smyth traveled to Galena July 20 and 21, 2009. RUBA met with city staff and discussed an upcoming management transition. The interim manager is leaving in August and the city is in the process of recruitment to fill the position with a permanent employee. RUBA staff provided limited assistance with the recruitment process. The discussion then turned to the financial status of the city and the need for more disclosure in the financial reports. RUBA staff was able to generate the monthly finance reports that the manager requested and taught two city employees how to generate them in the future. Additional QuickBooks training was provided to the receptionist/billing clerk. At a meeting with the manager and mayor, RUBA was able to identify specific concerns, some of which are: the city has authorized an alcohol tax yet never sollected such; has reduced sales tax from 6% to 4% and now the current 3%, and payroll was over budget by $1 million. RUBA receommended that city employees be cross trained, dual accounting control measures be implemented, the receptionist/billing clerk should attend a QuickBooks course and then be assigned more financial duties which will allow the finance director to focus on time sensitive issues. Monthly finance reports must be provided to the city council. Fairbanks RUBA staff and a RUBA QuickBooks contractor traveled to Galena in August to provide financial assistance with computer accounting issues. The city is operating without a financial employee or a city manager. The city recently hired a utility manager and interviewed candidates for the city manager position. The City of Galena is operating at a loss due to a lower revenue base after the Air Force left. RUBA and the QuickBooks contractor created an estimated expense report for the fiscal year. These estimates were provided to the council with the explanation that they no longer have the revenue source to subsidize public services such as utilities. RUBA stressed the need to consider raising the service fees to match expenditures to provide each service. It was explained that there are no grants to cover operational expenses. RUBA also helped research and secure information that will complete an audit and close out a grant. Both documents will mean $274,821 will be paid to the cash strapped city. Last quarter the city was on a boil water notice due to an algae build up on the top of the water tank but that has been lifted and no other issues with water/wastewater were expressed to RUBA. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will be in contact with the city to reschedule the visit and continue to provide assistance at their request.
Essential Indicators:
20 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
22 of 27
Total Score:
42 of 54


Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.
No The utility has adopted a balanced realistic budget.
No Monthly financial reports are prepared and submitted to the policy making board.
No 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
Yes 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.
Yes A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
RUBA has financial reports as current as March 10th. RUBA staff was scheduled for a site visit to assist with the creation of the new budget but the visit was postponed at the cities request. A copy of the new budget and other financials has been requested. The interim manager has talked with RUBA about the need for an independent financial person who has the skill to be able to offer solutions or options for consideration. The current staff can report and track data but is lacking in the ability to interpret and problem solve.

Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
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 of Galena uses QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions for all of its financial and accounting needs. A collection policy is in city ordinance and states that all city services will be discontinued until payment is made. This appears to have been very effective, as the collection rate was quite high. With the passing of the previous manager the enforcement appears to be falling down.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
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.
Tax Problems Comments
As of September 24, 2009 the Department of Labor deems Galena to be out of compliance. On September 28 the IRS deem Galena to be compliant.

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.
No 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
Workers compensation insurance is through Alaska Municipal League-Joint Insurance Association and is in effect until July 2010, RUBA has a faxed copy on hand in the Fairbanks office. The personnel policy and procedure manual is comprehensive; a copy is provided to each new hire with a signature page that acknowledges receipt which is filed in their personnel folder. RUBA staff has copies of job descriptions for city positions and the annual evaluations are based on the position description. RUBA staff and city staff were not able to locate a specific written hiring process. The standard process is that a vacancy notice is posted in town at four locations and the notice is read on the local public radio station for ten days. Applicants fill out the application; if there is more than one applicant, a list of interview questions is created for the interviewer. RUBA staff was told that the City follows the school district format; RUBA does not have a copy or any knowledge of the school district format. Galena Personnel Policies and Procedures Title 15 (15.10.430 (A)(1)) states that there are to be two separate personnel files for each employee, one public and one confidential. Between the two files, all necessary documents are retained. Included in the confidential files are evaluations, which are done after the six-month probationary period. New hires are provided with orientation and job-training, to the extent needed for the position. For example, the recently hired city clerk was in Fairbanks for computer classes and approximately three days of intensive training with RUBA staff.

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 is the owner of the water and electrical plants and city employees operate the utility. The city council is the policy making body and the city manager directs the day-to-day management and enforcement. Galena code title 13 establishes the authority for operations. An organizational chart has been created and the council meets monthly. The city manager was the most effective in enforcing collection (with the support of the council) but as the city was in transition to hire a new manager the collections have not been up to par.

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.
Yes 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 current water operator has a level 2 water treatment certificate and the October 1 Base transfer employee has a water treatment level 2 and a water distribution level 1. As stated previously, the city manager makes routine visits to the plant and the water operator talks with the city manager daily. The water plant employee attends weekly safety meetings at the power plant. There has not been any major outage in the level of service and it is operating at the level proposed. RUBA staff has on hand a copy of the recent CCR and a list of inventory and spare parts. The utility is not on the SNC list any more.