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

Jeffrey Congdon  
DCRA Regional Office:
Fairbanks regional office 
Gov't Type:
Home Rule City 
Agreement Date:
City of Nenana 
435 2013 DCRA Approved Estimate 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water is derived from a deep well, treated, and then distributed throughout the community via circulating loops. A piped gravity system collects wastewater, which is treated at a secondary treatment plant. Most of the city is connected to the piped water and wastewater system; 270 residential and commercial connections are served. The remaining homes have individual wells and septic systems. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Fairbanks RUBA staff and DCRA grants staff traveled to Nenana on March 11, 2014. RUBA staff worked with the city clerk and mayor improve the community's RUBA assessment Indicators. RUBA staff collected financial reports and council packets for the regular city council meetings of January and February 2014. Nenana is currently behind with payments to Golden Valley Electrical Coop, and as a result, is not currently meeting all Essential Indicators for the quarterly update of the current RUBA Assessment. Fairbanks RUBA staff assisted grant staff in reviewing grant documentation for municipally administrated projects in Nenana. RUBA staff conferred with DCRA grant staff and with Nenana administrative staff, providing input on the management of municipal funds, municipal banking, and on the permitting process, and the continued control of the management of the City of Nenana‚Äôs current projects.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will work with Nenana in an advisory role regarding financial accounting and the hiring of a treasurer/bookkeeper if the city requests assistance. RUBA will remain in contact with Nenana and travel to Nenana if assistance is requested. RUBA staff will continue to monitor the Borough formation study and related issues.
Essential Indicators:
24 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
21 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.
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
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.
Yes Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
Monthly reports are created with the Banyon accounting software used by the city. The city needs to find a financial accounting situation that fits their needs. The city is currently exploring possibilities of working with an accounting firm on a weekly, or more than weekly basis, rather than hiring bookkeeping locally. The utility receives power from Golden Valley Electric Association. All electricity bills are paid, however the utility is (as of March 11) delinquent with payments at present due to a cash shortage. Several privately owned fuel companies run the fuel distribution/sales. The city anticipates no fuel shortages; however, the price of fuel is a major concern for the utility. A rate increase in 2012 changed the utility financial picture to now cover operating expenses. The utiliities are in the process of generating funds for a repair and replacement account. Nenana's water infrastructure is usable, but the wastewater infrastructure is quite obsolete. Parts are dificult to locate for the wastewater treatment system. The utility is seeking Village SafeWater funds to upgrade or replace the system as needed for water and wastewater. The utility struggles to keep up with repair and replacement costs, the wastewater treatment facility is very outdated and replacement parts are difficult to locate/procure. The utility manager is the mayor; a monthly manager's report is prepared for the council and typically delivered verbally.

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
Nenana Muncipal Water has a collection policy that is actively followed. This policy is written in municipal ordinance; it can be located in Chapter 8 of Nenana Municipal Code. Billing schedules, rates, interests, due, delinquent accounts, and other issues are addressed in this section of the code under the title Water and Sewer. Fairbanks RUBA staff received an electronic copy of Nenana's codified ordinances to be filed in the Fairbanks office. The utility bills customers on a monthly basis. The accounting software (Banyon), used by the bookkeeping staff, tracks accounts receivable, customer accounts, accounts payable, and payroll. The utility has a cash receipt system in place; incoming money is recorded manually in a spiral bound three carbon copy receipt book and recorded electronically in the accounting software. Very little cash is received; deposits are made at least every two weeks or on an as needed basis. The utility typically keeps a petty cash fund of $100 and does not maintain a cash balance above that amount. The accounting software maintains a chart of accounts that identifies categories in a reasonable usable manner. Bank accounts are reconciled on a timely basis. The utility uses a purchase order system; no purchases are made prior to approval by the mayor/utility manager. The approval process compares proposed purchases to available funds and to budgeted amounts; however, fuel, personnel, repair, and maintenance costs have exceeded budgeted amounts.

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
Nenana is current with IRS reports and payments. RUBA staff have not received information from the Alaska DOL for this quarter. Nenana is typically compliant with ADOL. The City of Nenana is not listed in the State of Alaska Lien Watch publication.

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.
No 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 Nenana is insured through AML-JIA. The city has workmans compensation insurance in effect as of April 6, 2014. The utility personnel policy is by ordinance and can be found in the municipal code, Chapter 2 Article 5 addresses personnel. There are job descriptions for all positions, however most employees fill multiple roles within the municipality, so positions and roles have become blended. The utility follows a written hiring practice. RUBA staff reviewed an example personnel file and observed an I-9, job application, letter of acceptance, and correspondence. The utility has a probationary period and provides job training and oversight. Formal and informal training opportunities are provided to staff as needed and available.

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.
No 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
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
The public water system is named Nenana Municipal Water and is wholly owned and operated by the city of Nenana. When referred to in ordinance, the water and wastewater utilities are referred to as the City of Nenana Water and Sewer System. The city council is the utility board; the city council is active in making and enforcing policies for the utility. The utility manager (and mayor) has been in the position for eleven years and works in a full-time capacity as the administrator of the municipality. The position of "bookkeeper" is vacant, and currently Nenana is struggling to fill this role with existing staff. The primary operator has over 25 years experience with Nenana's utilities. Other operators are mentored by the primary operator and are trained in their positions informally and formally. The utility has adopted the necessary ordinances to have the authority to operate. The utility does not have an organizational chart; the five staff RUBA communicated with understand the uncharted staff hierarchy. The city council holds regular council meetings and also has special or emergency meetings if needed. The utility complies with the Open Meetings Act for all meetings.

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.
No The utility maintains an inventory control list.
No The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The main utility operator is certified at or above the level of the treatment systems in water treatment and wastewater treatment. The primary operator is continuing training in the water distribution system and wastewater collection systems. Other operators also actively work towards necessary certifications. The primary operator was recognized in 2010 as the Tanana Chiefs Conference Operator of the Year for his service of over 25 years. The utility has a preventative maintenance plan for the existing sanitation facilities; however, the facilities are operating far beyond their engineered lifespan, and maintenance parts have become difficult to find. This difficulty of finding affordable parts is currently most prevalent with the wastewater treatment facilities. The manager works closely with the utility operator; they communicate face-to-face on a nearly daily basis. The manager makes sure that maintenance is being completed. The utility does not hold official, regular safety meetings. The work space is very clean and hazards are addressed immediately. Utility facilities are suffering mechanical issues due to aging infrastructures and the difficulties of locating affordable parts coupled with the desire to save funding for new infrastructures. The utility is operating at the proposed level of service; the utility regularly distributes the CCR, and is not on the SNC list. Nenana states that they maintain an inventory of critical and essential replacement parts and maintenance items; an inventory list or critical spare parts list was not provided to RUBA during the assessment.