Quarterly Report: 2011, January - March (Q3), Ambler

Community:
Ambler 
Staff:
Margaret Hansen  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Ambler 
Population:
278  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
5/4/2011 
Community Sanitation Overview:
The main source of water for the community is a 167' well near the Kobuk River. Water is pumped 940 feet 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. Sewage 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 sewer system. The washeteria project no longer has funding attached since the IRA did not sign for the approval for the pass through funds. The city has applied for an Community Development Block Grant to complete the washeteria but that was not funded. The new lift station and lagoon was operational in January. This new construction has made operations much easier. A new water treatment plant, with waste heat from AVEC will be constructed this summer using Indian Health Service grant funds to also repair 10 homes water service lines, and a failed manhole. Water shutoffs for nonpaying customers will occur this summer when the copper service lines won't freeze. The city office building/washeteria will also be connected with wasteheat. The Ambler City Council have turned over the water plant operations to Alaska Rural Utilities Collabrative (ARUC)starting August 1st, 2010. ARUC inspected the furnaces for the water plant to make sure they are in good working order and ordered replacement parts as well.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
During this last quarter, Kotzebue staff provided assistance via phone and email coordinating with the State Assessor for the nonpayment of city sales tax collected by the Native Village of Ambler. Kotzebue LGS staff had the city send the documents from their sales tax file with all correspondence and any reports and payments made in 1997. Kotzebue staff also assisted with their fuel and gas shortage, coordinating with the Alaska Emergency Preparedness Center. The tribe has the only large bulk fuel tank farm. The city only has a 3,000 gallon tank to sell fuel to residents. The tribe called emergency services to report that they had run out of fuel. Due to the weather and mechanical problems Brooks Fuel had, they had not received any fuel in the last two weeks and the city had just ran out, saving enough for their water/sewer operations. Since Brooks planes were still grounded the other fuel carrier Everetts was contacted. They were waiting on their C46 since the runway is too small for a D6 to land. In the meantime, the city had to borrow fuel from the school district to sell to residents who had completely run out of fuel. Everetts finally got their plane in Ambler and provided fuel first to the tribe, then the city and also Department of Transportation. Kotzebue staff also provided assistance in writing a letter to the Alaska Energy Authority to see if they would consider doing a feasibility study for more storage tanks for the city.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
The City Administrator has requested training and assistance in amending her FY 11 budget and review her budget for FY 2012, providing training to the council as well. Kotzebue staff has set a date for the second week in May.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
23 of 26
Total Score:
49 of 52

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
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.
No 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
In reviewing the monthly financial report submitted by ARUC, all the revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the balanced realistic budget they adopted showing that all revenues and expenses are at or equal to those budgeted. The report shows that all utility electric bills are current and they do have a financial plan to purchase fuel as needed. Although they do not have a large enough surplus to pay for major repair and replacement costs, they are receiving enough revenues to cover their expenses. Because of the freezing problems with their lift station, they had to spend more for payroll so an budget amendment may be 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.
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 utility has an adopted collection policy that they actively follow who bills customers on a regular basis by ARUC who has an accounting system that tracks customers, accounts payable, purchasing, payroll, cash receipts and cash disbursements by following the chart of accounts adopted in their budget who reconciles the utility account monthly. They have a purchase system that requires approval by reviewing the latest monthly financial report in comparison to their budget 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
The ARUC system accurately calculates, tracks, and reports payroll tax liabilities who is current in filing all tax reports, makes deposits timely and no know past due tax liabilities at this time according to the completed tax authorization reports from IRS and the Department of Labor.

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 has paid in full workers compensation insurance which they posted showing which will remain in effect until July 2011 as verified by AML/JIA. They are using the adopted personnel policy which has been reviewed by AMl which provides a written personnel evaluation process that ties into their adequately written job descriptions. They also follow an adequate written hiring process and has a probationary period for new hires that includes orientation, job training oversite and evaluations. The council provides training opportunities to staff as needed. The main operator attended the wastewater training in Kotzebue in January but did not pass, he is scheduled to attend the operator in training class in April. The administrator attended the quickbooks class in February.

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 knows and enforces policy in order to effectively run their utility complying with the open meetings act meeting monthly. They work with ARUC and support them with all their decisions. They have adopted an organizational chart that reflects their current structure showing that the adequately trained administrator who oversees all staff of the oranization following the ordinances necessary that they adopted to give it the authority. The administrator of two years has been adequately trained who is also the bookkeeper. She attends all the RUBA classes Kotzebue provides. Although they lost another operator this last quarter, the main operator attended the last training session but unable to pass the exam. He has been on the job in Ambler for about a year so knows the system and is planning to attend the operator in training class in April here in Kotzebue.

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.
Yes The utility maintains an inventory control list.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The two operators will continue to attend any and all trainings offered here in the region. The Remote Maintenance Worker continues to train and assist on site. They do follow the preventative maintenance plan which helps them from suffering any major problems so it is operating at the level proposed and maintains an inventory control lists and critical spare parts list. They have distributed their completed Consumer Confidence Report. No known safety meetings have been held to date but the manager receives a monthly report from the operators and routinely spot checks the facilities to see that the maintenance are being completed. They are no longer on the SNC list.