Quarterly Report: 2014, January - March (Q3), Buckland

Margaret Hansen  
DCRA Regional Office:
Kotzebue regional office 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Northwest Arctic Borough 
Agreement Date:
City of Buckland 
487 2013 Department of Labor Estimate 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water for the community is pumped from the Buckland River and stored in a 750,000-gallon tank. It is treated with filtration and chlorination at the old water plant, stored in a smaller tank, then pressurized and distributed to the community through a buried piped system. The Corps of Engineers (COE) is planning to provide a new water intake. Wastewater goes through a gravity system and pumped through a one mile force main to a lagoon. A piped water and wastewater system delivering drinking water directly to homes is under construction and is being built in phases. The downtown water main loop is complete, and work started on the midtown/uptown loop in 2013. Fifty homes, the clinic, the Native store, and city office now have piped service. Various parts of town will come online in phases each year through 2014, pending adequate funding. Plans are being developed to treat the water in the new plant to meet all drinking water standards including disinfectant byproduct (DBP) levels. Residents are charged for piped water and wastewater service through the assisted billing program with Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the collection rate is excellent. Residents who do not have piped service yet continue to haul drinking water from a central watering point and use honeybuckets to dispose of wastewater. The community has a central washeteria, which is a combination laundromat, toilet, shower facility, and a watering point. The water plant and washeteria utilize waste heat extensively. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
administrator and clerk and to conduct a RUBA assessment. Upon arrival, RUBA staff worked with the administrator going over the RUBA assessment. The one item that was not present in the personnel files was the I-9 form. RUBA staff assisted the administrator in printing out the form from the IRS website, then the administrator had the clerk call employees in to sign and file. At the administrator’s request, RUBA staff assisted in completing and getting his monthly financial reports up to date. In reviewing the bank reconciliations, RUBA staff noted there were discrepancies. RUBA staff assisted in correcting the July through October financial reports. The next day November and December’s monthly financial reports were completed. On January 8, RUBA staff assisted in drafting an amended budget based on the review of the completed December monthly report. The city will have to decrease projected revenues based on current incoming revenues, which are below those currently budgeted. The city will also need to decrease current expenses to meet their budget. The December financial report shows that the city is currently receiving enough revenue to cover their expenses, but by year-end they may not unless they amend their budget. RUBA staff also met with the water plant operator discussing the budget, pay raise, cost to purchase equipment, and supplies needed. It was determined that the city can save 11 percent of purchase cost by dealing with the vendor directly; the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) charges city an 11 percent fee. Prior to leaving the community, RUBA staff reviewed the balance sheet and profit and loss statement, which included a list of accounts payable. The clerk will work with the RUBA QuickBooks contractor to complete the December bank reconciliation, as the net income by the end of December per the balance sheet showed a negative $20,000. A RUBA work plan for the next six months was drafted, which RUBA staff will type up and forward on to the council and administrator. Buckland terminated their billing assistance with ANTHC as of February 1. Kotzebue RUBA will contact the city monthly to reiterate the need to follow their disconnection policies as cash flow is very important in order to cover their expenses; all customers need to pay on time.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will travel to Buckland in April to continue to work with the administrator and clerk on financial management.
Essential Indicators:
23 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
23 of 26
Total Score:
46 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.
No 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
All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the budget. In December, the city amended their budget to reflect the increase in revenues and expenses. Monthly financial reports are prepared and submitted to the policy making board but RUBA staff has not received the minutes showing the council approved the month of February monthly financial report. Water/wastewater electric bills are current and fuel is purchased as needed. Although they are receiving revenues equal to those budgeted and expenditures are at a level equal to those budgeted, they have not been able to save funds for major repair and replacement costs. The city administrator provides a written monthly report to the council. Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.

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.
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 adopted a new collection policy in 2011 before their new system came online and actively follows it. Customers are billed monthly. The billing clerk provides the council an accounts receivable and payable report and they determine which homes if any will be disconnected per policy. The clerk uses QuickBooks to accurately calculate payroll, cash receipts and cash disbursements. The city has all systems in place to track customers, accounts payable, payroll, incoming cash, and cash disbursements which are kept current utilizing QuickBooks. When items need to be purchased, the clerk completes a check request for the administrator to approve. The administrator checks the latest finance report and any other outstanding purchase orders to determine that there are enough funds in the budgeted line item before approving. The budget items are used as their chart of accounts, which identifies the categories in a reasonable manner. Monthly bank reconciliations have not been completed timely so the city has run into a cash flow problem.

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.
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 clerk uses QuickBooks to accurately report and pay all tax liabilities but has not paid the balance due on the fourth quarter tax reports. The Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor have deemed the City of Buckland non-compliant for the fourth quarter 2013.

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 of Buckland has workers compensation coverage, which was posted, showing coverage from July 2013 to June 2014. Personnel policies were reviewed by their attorney, and their personnel files job descriptions, evaluations and written hiring process followed. All employees had files that include the I-9, job application and acceptance letter. The utility provides training opportunities to staff as needed. Both the administrator and clerk completed a QuickBooks class, RUBA clerk’s class and RUBA financial management class within the last year. Job announcements are posted for at least two weeks for permanent hire, the administrator and council interviews applicants and hire based on merit. Once hired, the applicant fills out the appropriate forms, reviews the job description, reads through the personnel policy, and is placed on a three-month probation. Once the employee completes probation, the administrator then does the probationary evaluation.

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 known entity that operates the utility who adopted the necessary ordinances to give it authority. In February 2014, the city had been an ANTHC assisted billing utility, but since has ended that agreement. The council and the public understand that they own and are responsible to operate and maintain all utility facilities. The council is active in enforcing policy who adopted the necessary ordinances to give it authority to operate, and complies with the Open Meetings Act for all meetings. They do have an organizational chart that shows their current structure. The council meets monthly enforcing policies, utilizing a trained manager and clerk who share the bookkeeping tasks per their job descriptions. All three operators are certified.

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".
No 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 utility is on the Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list due to needed upgrades that are pending. The construction of a new water source intake will begin this summer to be able to reduce DBP levels. All operators are certified and attend all trainings that are offered to further their certification. They hold regular safety meetings and provide the administrator and council status reports while operating at the level that was proposed and maintaining inventory and critical parts lists.