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

Lynn Kenealy  
DCRA Regional Office:
Juneau regional office 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Gustavus 
502 2013 Department of Labor Estimate 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Gustavus is a second class city approximately 48 air miles northwest of Juneau and surrounded by Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The community receives its drinking water from individual well water catchment systems. Wastewater is collected in individual wastewater tanks which are pumped by a number of private businesses. Some of the wastewater tanks are past their life expectancy. Wastewater tanks also do not generally operate correctly in this climate, as the ground is too cold for the anaerobic systems. Several individuals also have outhouses located just above groundwater sources. The city is seeking assessments from Village Safe Water to identify the best solution to the community’s growing wastewater concerns. Because the city does not yet provide water or wastewater services, this assessment will describe the management of the city’s general funds and other departments in preparation for seeking future sanitation project funding. Currently, the city operates and manages a solid waste disposal and recycling facility, landfill, gravel pit, library, fire hall, EMS, and marine facilities. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
This quarter RUBA staff traveled to Gustavus to conduct a utility management assessment. While on this visit, RUBA staff also answered questions pertaining to meetings, conflict of interest, and cash- versus accrual-based accounting. RUBA staff also provided training to the new city clerk and assistant city clerk. Additionally, RUBA staff provided remote assistance this quarter with account reconciliation and other finance issues while the city is undertaking audits and working to improve management practices. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
The mayor and city clerk wish to work with the RUBA program on modifications to the city's personnel manual and on instituting of a personnel evaluation system. These modifications, if successful, would bring the city into compliance with all RUBA indicators relevant to the services the city currently offers. RUBA staff will provide assistance throughout the process and over the coming quarter.
Essential Indicators:
24 of 24
Sustainable Indicators:
22 of 24
Total Score:
46 of 48


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
Yes 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
The City of Gustavus adopted an overall FY14 budget ordinance prior to the start of the relevant fiscal year. It has since adopted several amendments to various department budgets, including amendments to the disposal and recycling center and library budgets on August 8. The library budget was amended again on December 12, and February 10. The volunteer fire department budget amended on November 14, and January 13 and the administration budget was amended on February 10. There are also several other amendments to these component budgets pending. The budgets and all subsequent amendments are realistic, considering previous years’ totals and anticipating changes in the coming year. The city has ended with a net positive balance every year since its incorporation, and excess monies have been saved in an Alaska Municipal League Investment Pool (AMLIP) account. Recently, the city has allocated its savings to specific departments. An amount equal to expected expenditures for one fiscal year have been saved into a reserve account. $50,000 has been appropriated to each of the city’s departments for repairs, maintenance, and replacement. Each department is to report its use of these monies to the city, and any unused monies are saved in a separate department account with AMLIP. Fuel costs are recognized in each department’s budget, and is provided by a private company in the community, Gustavus Dray. The company receives a fuel barge every three months in the winter and every month in the summer. The city currently receives its electricity from Gustavus Electric, though in April this service is expected to transfer to Alaska Power and Telephone Company (AP&T). Each department is charged for its portion of the electric and fuel bills. Administration and general financial reports are provided to the city council for each monthly regular meeting. Profit and loss budget reports are currently being provided on an accrual basis, but are going to be switched to cash basis in order to reflect the actual sales tax income, as opposed to the owed sales tax income. The reports include a profit and loss overview, profit and loss budget versus actual by department, and graphs and pie charts to aid in displaying trends. On at least a quarterly basis, each department provides profit and loss reports comparing budgeted and actual amounts to the council.

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 city has a policy to collect its three percent sales tax and four percent bed tax, and city staff has begun enforcing that policy over the past few months. Some businesses are reporting and collecting on a previous two percent sales tax. Businesses under-collecting on sales taxes are receiving letters from the city and from the city’s attorney, and receive penalties and interest on the correct owed amounts if no response is received, in accordance with the sales tax collection policy. Additionally, city staff or contracted accountants will be auditing the books of some businesses where there is suspicion of non-payment or incorrect reporting. The city utilizes QuickBooks to track all accounts receivable and accounts payable. Each department tracks its own accounts receivable, then provides a report to the treasurer for appropriate deposit, documentation, and follow-up. Purchases are completed through one of three methods. According to one method, department and city staff make purchases on the city’s account at the local store, and then provide a receipt to the treasurer for appropriate accounting and cost allocation. A similar method is utilized with the city’s Amazon.com credit card. Any other purchases require a purchase order form which is pre-approved by the treasurer. All checks are created by the treasurer then signed by two council members. All coding and accounting is completed by the treasurer in accordance with appropriate budget categories and available funds. When cash is received by each department, it is brought to the treasurer and the treasurer “buys” the cash with a personal check. Each check is photocopied and attached to a copy of the deposit slips. All cash is sent to the bank for deposit. The city does not disburse any cash. Payroll is also computed using QuickBooks. Employees utilize a uniform timesheet and on a monthly basis the timesheets are signed and turned into the treasurer, who provides pay stubs and processes direct deposits. The city’s chart of accounts was previously nine pages long, but has since been revamped and is now five pages long. Each account is categorized with a type, such as bank, accounts receivable, assets, liabilities, equity, income, etc. Reconciliations are completed on a monthly basis, and reconciliation details provide evidence of reconciliation of each account within the past month.

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
QuickBooks is used to calculate payroll taxes, and the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to make payments. On March 4, 2014 the State of Alaska confirmed that the city is in compliance on all state tax issues. On March 17, 2014 the IRS’s taxpayer advocacy service confirmed the city is compliant on all federal tax issues. The city has no past liabilities or lien.

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.
No 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 receives its worker’s compensation insurance through Alaska Public Entity Insurance (APEI,) and has paid for the plan through June 30, 2014. The city has a personnel ordinance, which serves as an employee handbook. All positions have job descriptions. A hiring policy adopted by the council resolution outlines a procedure including identification and justification of the position, position description review, funding source identification, announcement, publicity, application, selection criteria and ranking, interview questions, reference checks, notification, and employment. All employees go through a six-month probationary period. Though an evaluation is directed in the personnel policy, there is currently no personnel evaluation form or procedure in place. Personnel folders are kept by the city clerk/treasurer and are separated into different categories, depending on the relevant document. I-9s, W4s, identification, correspondences, timesheets, and a document which serves as a letter of acceptance are kept for all employees. Staff are encouraged to attend trainings. See Organizational Management for further details.

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 of Gustavus has gone through significant personnel transition over the past six months. A new city clerk/treasurer has been hired, and a deputy clerk position has been created and filled. The mayor is also working office hours to assist in audits, trainings, and procedural changes. Staff are also encouraged to attend trainings. The city clerk attended the Alaska Municipal League’s clerk conference and newly elected officials training in 2013 and the deputy clerk attended the newly elected officials training in 2013. Both have expressed interest in upcoming RUBA trainings as well. The city’s organizational chart is up-to-date and references all paid and unpaid positions and committees of the city. The organizational chart clearly specifies lines of authority and supervisory responsibility. The city council is the decision-making body for all departments. The council meets once per month for a regular meeting and twice per month for work sessions, as well as additional special meetings as needed. Meeting notices are posted on the city website and in three locations in town, and are sent to a news group via e-mail. Work sessions and committees also post in three locations throughout the community at least five days prior to the meeting. Minutes are taken for all regular and special meetings of the council.

Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
N/A The utility operator(s) are actively working towards necessary certification.
N/A 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.
N/A 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.
N/A The utility has completed and distributed its "Consumer Confidence Report".
N/A 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
Because there is no water/wastewater utility in the community at present, indicators which can only refer to sanitation utility operations in this section have been marked ‘N/A’. Indicators marked ‘Yes’ in this section describe the services the City of Gustavus currently provides. Management within other departments indicates a high level of preparation, planning, and safety. For instance, the volunteer fire department undertakes drills every Tuesday evening, including discussions of safety topics at the beginning of each session. The department also has a safety officer and seeks assistance from outside organizations for training and up-to-date information as needed.