Quarterly Report: 2014, April - June (Q4), Ambler

Community:
Ambler 
Staff:
Margaret Hansen  
DCRA Regional Office:
Kotzebue regional office 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
Northwest Arctic Borough 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Ambler 
Population:
264 2013 DCCED Certified Estimate 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
6/25/2005 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
7/2/2014 
Community Sanitation Overview:
The main source of water for the community is a 167' well near the Kobuk River. Water is pumped to the treatment facility and stored in a 210,000-gallon insulated tank, then piped to most homes. An 80' standby well is also located at the water treatment plant. Wastewater is collected via six and eight inch arctic pipes and flows to a facultative lagoon through two lift stations where it discharges to a natural watershed, then the Kobuk River. Currently, 53 homes are served by the piped water and wastewater system. The washeteria project is still incomplete since no new funding has been secured. The new lift station and lagoon was operational in January 2011. This new construction has made operations much easier. The construction of a new water treatment plant is complete and heat recovery project. A new community well was developed and is ready to be brought online. ANTHC has provided water plant building information to North West Arctic Borough (NWAB) for a solar panel installation project and will consult the structural engineer when provided the solar panel layout and design. In addition, an update to the existing master plan is fully complete. The Ambler City Council turned over water plant operations to Alaska Rural Utilities Collaborative (ARUC) starting August 1, 2010. ANTHC has updated eight existing project applications and inputted two new ones into the Sanitation Deficiency System (SDS) for FY 14 funding. Next quarter complete the necessary items for obtaining final approval to operate for the water treatment plant, 2002 well and lagoon, force main and lift station from ADEC. Continue to closeout activities for the legacy projects above and obtain the letter of approval from ADEC for the master plan update. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
The new administrator continues to communicate with Kotzebue staff daily regarding issues on land, personnel policies, rental of buildings and equipment, payroll and tax related issues and assistance with her monthly financial report. Kotzebue staff refers her to their personnel policies, reviewed and commented on rental agreements, advice to get current blue book rates for equipment rates, and training of staff needed. The city council of Ambler brings up the debt they have in regards to the water and sewer operations. Kotzebue staff responded via email with a carbon copy to the ARUC manager explaining this debt they think they have. Kotzebue staff attached the February 2014 ARUC financial report showing that ARUC is showing a deficit since 2013. Kotzebue staff explained that they signed an agreement with ARUC to take over the operation and maintenance of the water and sewer systems who receives all the revenue and budget how they are to spend that revenue so it is not the cities responsibility to pay off that deficit. The Mayor called who needed help writing a termination letter. Kotzebue staff referred him to the AML/JIA for legal assistance that is required for personnel matters. Kotzebue staff also contacted AML to make sure that the Mayor had been in contact to receive legal assistance on the issue. The city did receive advise and a draft letter to write to the employee. Kotzebue staff then contacted the clerk to make sure that they use the exact wording for the Mayor to sign and certify return receipt the letter to the employee. On June 17, 2014, LGS staff from Kotzebue traveled to Ambler to train the acting administrator and new city clerk on financial management, drafting the FY15 budget and revenue sharing program requirements. The June 2013 monthly financial report could not be located so LGS staff had the acting administrator look for the journals in order to complete it for the certified financial statement. In the meantime, LGS staff worked with the city clerk on reconciling the bank accounts. The last one completed was for the month of January 2014. By the time LGS staff assisted in completing three months of bank reconciliations and two months of monthly financial reports. On June 18, LGS staff worked with the administrator and completed the FY 15 budget. LGS staff sat down with the administrator and mayor to review it. After lunch staff then completed the June 2013 monthly financial report. The council was scheduled to meet on Friday to introduce the budget, pass the resolution to certify the FY 13 finances and review the Title 4 local option law petition to set a date for a special election. City staff learned very quickly and understood the process to pass the documents to qualify the city for their revenue sharing before the final deadline, however it is important they follow through with the process.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Kotzebue staff will travel to Ambler this next quarter to provide training and assistance to the new administrator on revenue sharing requirements, elections and financial management.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
27 of 27
Total Score:
53 of 53

Finances

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 ARUC financial report shows a balanced realistic budget, revenues and expenses for the utility are listed within the budget, and are reported to the council on a monthly basis. During the second quarter, the financials show that the collection rate is 71 percent year to date. In reviewing the financial report it shows that they are receiving user fees to cover their operating expenses and repair and replacement costs. No budget amendment is needed at this time.

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
ARUC bills customers on a monthly basis and actively follow the adopted collection policy, notifying customers that they will be disconnected if they are more than two months past due. They utilize an accounting system which reports past due amounts, an accounts payable system, and a payroll system that correctly calculates payroll and keeps payroll records. Their system records all incoming money and how it was spent using a cash disbursement system. ARUC uses their budget line items as the chart of accounts, reconciling bank accounts before completing their monthly reports. The community uses their budget and latest monthly financial report before approving purchases, using purchase orders that are approved and recorded.

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
In reviewing the ARUC completed tax authorization form, they have no known debt and are current on filing and depositing taxes and reports.

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
ARUC and the city have paid the workers compensation insurance in full, which is posted and will remain in effect until October 2014 as verified by AMLJIA. The city's insurance is paid for until July 30, 2014. ARUC has an adopted personnel policy. The policy has been reviewed by an attorney. A written personnel evaluation process that ties into adequately written job descriptions is used. ARUC follows a written hiring process and has a probationary period for new hires that includes orientation, job training oversight and evaluations. ARUC provides training opportunities to employees onsite and supports attendance to any training the Department of Environmental Conservation puts on through Maniilaq Association. The city has budgeted funds to cover the costs to send utility personnel and/or council members to training as needed.

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 council signed an agreement with ARUC who oversees and operates their utility and enforces policy in order to effectively run the utility. The city council does comply with the open meetings act and meet monthly. They work with ARUC and support them with all their decisions. ARUC has adopted an organizational chart that reflects their current structure. ARUC has experienced administration staff that oversees all staff of the organization. The council follow the ordinances adopted to give authority. ARUC has a trained manager and bookkeeper who report to the council on the operations of the utility. The operator has a certificate for small water treated system and water distribution provisional, but the Remote Maintenance Worker continues to offer on site assistance and training as needed.

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 two operators have been actively working towards their certification since they were hired, attending one training session offered this last quarter. Their main operator has a certificate for small water system distribution and water system treated. The Environmental Health Manager continues to train and assist onsite as needed. The utility follows the preventative maintenance plan which helps prevent major problems. The utility is operating at the level proposed and maintains an inventory control list and critical spare parts list. They have completed and distributed a Consumer Confidence Report. The utility staff have held safety meetings and the manager receives a monthly report from the operators and routinely spot checks the facilities to see that the maintenance is being completed. Ambler is not on the Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list.