Quarterly Report: 2010, January - March (Q3), Buckland

Margaret Hansen  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Buckland 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The water supply used by the City is taken from the Buckland River. It is treated with filtration and chlorination and stored in a central community storage tank. The water is then hauled to some homes by means of a light truck and small tanks. The residents are charged for this service. The community has a central washeteria, which is a combination laundromat, toilet and shower facility and provides a watering point for residents who haul their own water. The City met with VSW who coordinated the hiring of a project management firm to oversee all phases of the water/sewer project. The sewage lagoon project started last summer to be completed in 2009; currently, they are almost done connecting piping to the sewage lagoon from the Washeteria, Clinic and School. The maintenance equipment storage building is completed. The next step is the foundation for the water treatment plant and the water tank to start this fall when the barge comes in. Right now they are laying the pipe between the lift station and the sewage lagoon. Next spring they hope to do in home plumbing for 17 homes. They are 13 million short to do this for the entire community. The admnistrator applied for Community Development Block Grant funds to help fund the new water plant. Plans for a new intake are awaiting response from enggineering consultant to finalize construction approval plans for a new treatment plant . 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Kotzebue RUBA staff traveled to Buckland February 22-24, 2010 to conduct a RUBA management assessment. Village Safe Water requires that essential indicators must be met prior to construction funds being released. While onsite, RUBA staff assisted the city staff in completing monthly finance reports. The city clerk had recently attended a RUBA sponsored QuickBooks accounting course in Kotzebue and was putting her new skills to the test. City staff had followed RUBA's advice in getting delinquent customer's to sign repayment plans; these repayment plans require the customer pay against past due amounts and stay current with all new billings. In addition, RUBA reviewed the assessment with the mayor. A plan was proposed to request that all customer agreement forms for water/wastewater service require an assigment of rights form to one permanent dividend form per household for a portion of the utility cost. Two weeks later, the mayor contacted RUBA to state that a teleconference with the engineer had occured. They expect to install a raw water line and lift station that will connect 19 homes in this phase. The mayor reported that during an annual meeting in Buckland, the priority was how to put the honeybucket in the museum. Senator Lisa Murkowski spoke to the annual meeting and promised to research how to move the project forward. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will travel to Buckland to provide financial management and budgeting training to the new staff and council in May 2010.
Essential Indicators:
27 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
23 of 27
Total Score:
50 of 54


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.
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
All revenues and expenses are listed in the realistic adopted budget that they amend as needed. Monthly financial reports are provided to the council on a monthly basis showing that revenues and expenses are equal to or below those budgeted which is a part of the monthly administrators report. In reviewing files with staff, all utility bills are paid to current, they have adequate fuel until the next barge in the spring and are receiving enough revenues sufficient to cover operating expenses but do not have sufficient resources to cover repair and replacement costs.

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
Kotzebue RUBA talked with the mayor, and saw that they have gone back and assessed a penalty tax to those delinquent and have made payment plans for those delinquent in order to follow their collection policy. RUBA reiterated the need to notify the customers that in order for the city to receive Village Safe Water (VSW) funds to help build their new system, the city must show that they have a policy and follow it and that customers follow that policy and pay on time. If they do not, the city will not have enough funds to operate and maintain that system. The mayor is very interested in talking to her council about requiring every customer to assign a permanent dividend every year to help pay for their water/sewer monthly fees They utilize QuickBooks that identifies categories which tracks customers, accounts payable, purchasing system, payroll, cash receipts and cash disbursements. Monthly bank reconciliations are done timely for all accounts.

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.
Yes 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 new city administrator is competent and still utilizes QuickBooks which accurately calculate, track and report payroll tax liabilities which helps her to keep current on her deposits and reports. There is no past due tax liabilities at this time.

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
Their insurance in effect is posted in three places within the City office building. They still use their approved lawyer reviewed personnel policies following the evaluation, hiring and probationary process. They have adequate job descriptions and contain them in a file with the I-9, application and letter of acceptance. They continue to send staff to training as needed. RUBA staff will travel to Buckland to work with the new administrator and provide training on office procedures and RUBA practices.

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 still utlizes the adopted organizational chart that reflects their current structure and holds regular meetings as required complying with the open meetings act. They have adopted ordinances that give them the authority to operate as the policy making body of the utility. The council had difficulty enforcing their utility policy with the known outstanding debt owed for trash and sewage haul delinquent accounts but in the last two weeks have worked hard to get them paid or on an payment plan.

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.
No 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
Their main operator continues to attend any class here in Kotzebue but is certified for water treatment 1 and water distribution 1 until December 2009 and now has until June 2010 to renew. He is trained to utilize the preventative maintenance plan in effect by reporting this on a monthly basis to the administrator who routinely spots checks some of the facilities on a monthly basis. They still have had no safety meetings and they have not had any major problems this last quarter so they are operating at the level of service as proposed. Their CCR is completed. Systems only monitoring violation is for missing 4th quarter 2009 TTHM/HAAS, however due to lab error, samples were no analyzed. The operator continues to maintain an inventory and critical spare parts list.