RUBA Community Status Report

Community Name: Coffman Cove


Community:

Coffman Cove

RUBA:

Yes

Staff:

Lynn Kenealy

Agreement:

Yes

DCA Region:

Juneau

Agreement Date:

10/25/2012

Region:

Southeast

Exp Date:

10/25/2014

Govt Type(s):

2nd Class City

Borough:

Unorganized

Assessment Date:

12/14/2011

Population:

170

Active Community:

Yes

Date Updated:

10/3/2013


Community Sanitation Overview:

The City of Coffman Cove is located on the northeast coast of Prince of Wales Island 42 miles southwest of Wrangell. The city operates a Class 2 water treatment system and a wastewater collection system. A city-run solid waste collection service is also available, whereby garbage is collected locally and then dumped at a landfill facility 35 miles away in Thorne Bay. Electricity is provided by the Alaska Power Company.

RUBA Status
and Activities
this Quarter:

This quarter, RUBA staff maintained frequent contact with the community. On July 18, RUBA staff discussed a 2011 elections ordinance which was passed and then misplaced. The council is the governing making body for the utility. The clerk has not used the provisions of this ordinance for the past two years, as they did not know it was in existence. However, now that it has been found, there are some questions as to whether it is appropriate to enact some of the changes in the ordinance. RUBA staff, with the assistance of city staff, wrote up a list of concerns about the ordinance, such as a lengthy over-all timeline, with extremely early dates for declaration of candidacy and obtaining the final master voter registration list, among many other items. Also in July, RUBA staff traveled to the City of Coffman Cove to provide on-site assistance and training in various areas of utility and city management. RUBA staff assisted with codifying recently-adopted ordinances and trained in general on codification. RUBA staff also assisted city staff with exploring possible sources of revenue for the city, and discussed options including the motor vehicle registration tax and sales taxes. RUBA staff assisted in drafting a possible sales tax ordinance. The city currently subsidizes some of the cost of the water utility, thus identifying sources of revenue is vital for the long-term sustainability of the water utility. RUBA staff also created and walked through an election timeline and explained the elections code to the city clerk, and assisted in creating elections-related documents, in preparation for upcoming regular municipal city council elections, which is the decision-making body for the utility. RUBA staff provided ongoing assistance with various elections-related questions such as providing information about the elections register, discussions of a survey of voters at the time of elections regarding voter interest in a sales tax, voter registration, elections notification, ballot design, and absentee voter processes. Additionally this quarter, RUBA staff assisted with other topics such as personnel files confidentiality and disciplinary procedures and decisions and surveying community members. Finally, RUBA staff assisted city staff in contacting the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Epidemiology following health concerns in the community, which have since been rectified. This quarter, RUBA staff also informed city staff of a delinquent report due to the IRS. City staff was able to rectify the situation and are no longer delinquent on any tax-related issues. In August, Juneau RUBA staff was contacted by Coffman Coves City Administrator with concerns that many people in the community were suffering from diarrhea and cramps, with no other symptoms, for approximately two weeks. The city wanted to ensure the problem is not from the communitys drinking water. RUBA staff contacted the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and learned that the citys last water testing for coliform bacteria was conducted on August 6, and there were no coliform or bacteria found, nor has there ever been since the community began treating and distributing water in 2008.

 

Capacity Indicator: Finances

Essential Indicators:

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:

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.

Comment:

The city's fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. The FY14 Budget was adopted on June 20, 2013. The budget estimates receiving the same amount in revenue for water/wastewater as the previous year's estimates, though slightly more than this amount was actually received. The city anticipates expending $11,000 more in FY14 than FY13, an increase predominantly accounted for by wastewater tank pumping costs. Anticipated expenses are slightly higher than anticipated revenues, a gap filled by Community Revenue Sharing. However, in FY13, revenues exceeded expenses, despite predictions to the contrary. The city contracts with Alaska Business Partners, a Ketchikan-based bookkeeping service, to have monthly financial reports prepared for the city council. These reports include a balance sheet and a budget versus actual comparison on the profit and loss statement. The reports show the gross profits, expenses, and net income of the city's utility enterprises for the relevant time period. A thorough, written manager's financial report is also provided to the council at each regular meeting which explains income and expense amounts and narrates potential cost-saving financial strategies. The financial reports show that year-to-date revenues are at those budgeted and that year-to-date expenditures are below the amount budgeted for the relevant portion of the current fiscal year. The profit and loss budget versus actual for July-September 12, 2013, identifies that 23 percent of projected income has been received, approximately proportional to the fiscal year gone by thus far; 17 percent of projected expenditures have been spent thus far, leaving plenty of room for further expenditures through the remainder of the fiscal year. The Alaska Power Company (APT) provides electrical service to the City of Coffman Cove. RUBA staff reviewed five service statements and found that the utility is current in paying all of its electric bills to APT and that Power Cost Equalization (PCE) credits are applied as appropriate.

 

Capacity Indicator: Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators:

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:

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.

Comment:

Bills for city services are mailed to customers the first week of each month on a postcard that includes the customer's name and address, the amount due for water and wastewater services, previous statement balances, late fees, net balances, and the due date. While the postcard billings have saved the city significant money on postage, upon request, standard statements enclosed in an envelope are provided to customers with privacy concerns. Customers have until the 25th day of each month to submit their payments by mail, in person during the city's business hours, by credit card, or through a regularly occurring 'auto-pay' charge system. If a customer does not pay within 45 days, their account is considered delinquent and the city actively enforces its adopted collections policy. That policy is outlined in Title VII of the Coffman Cove Municipal Code and provides for a late payment fee, disconnection, reconnection fees, and denial of other city services such as harbor, internet, and garbage service. Delinquent accounts may also be referred to a third-party collection agency. Customers may, however, appeal any decision resulting in these actions to the city council at the next regular council meeting. QuickBooks accounting software is used for the accounts receivable, accounts payable, and payroll processes. Customers are also offered a written receipt of their service payment from a receipt book that records the customer's name and address, the date, the payment amount, what the payment was for, the form of payment, and who the payment was received by. All payments are then recorded in a detailed logbook and the QuickBooks system which can clearly identify customers who are current in their payments and those who are 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days past due. The city's cash disbursement system consists of a logical chart of accounts, a purchase order process, and a check register. The carbon copy purchase orders are individually numbered, show how money will be spent, and include space for an authorizing signature. Section 4.04.050 of the city's code of ordinances only mandates that purchases of supplies, materials, equipment, or contractual services costing more than $2,000 require prior approval of the city council. However, purchase orders are completed by utility staff prior to every purchase and all purchases are closely monitored by the city administrator.

 

Capacity Indicator: Tax Problems

Essential Indicators:

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.

Comment:

The City of Coffman Cove contracts with Alaska Business Partners in Ketchikan who accurately calculates, tracks, and reports the city's payroll tax liabilities. The IRS Taxpayer Advocacy Office confirmed on September 12, 2013, that Coffman Cove is current in its filings and that the IRS has no liens against the city. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development confirmed on August 29, 2013, that all state tax payments are current.

 

Capacity Indicator: Personnel System

Essential Indicators:

Yes

The utility has a posted workers compensation insurance policy in effect.

Sustainable Indicators:

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.

Comment:

All city employees are covered by an Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA) workers compensation insurance policy. The policy covers work-related accidents and occupational diseases up to the Alaska statutory limits for each occurrence. Proof of coverage is posted at the city office. RUBA staff verified that the city is current in its payments to AMLJIA and that adequate funds have been allocated in the annual budget for payments over the remainder of the fiscal year, confirmed as of August 30, 2013. The City of Coffman Cove implements a comprehensive personnel management system with the mayor, vice mayor, and city council continually reviewing personnel matters. A personnel handbook adopted by resolution on March 15, 2002 outlines the hiring and evaluation process, conditions of employment, a probationary period, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and general workplace expectations. The outdated and unenforced personnel section outlined in their municipal code was formally repealed in August 2012 by ordinance. The adopted ordinance also permits the city council to formally adopt and amend a separate personnel handbook that has been used in practice, by resolution. All city staff, including the water and wastewater operator, have formal written job descriptions that explain their position's purpose, duties, supervisor, and required skills and qualifications. The descriptions also list whether the position is full-time or part-time, whether travel is required, and the position's salary range. Each employee undergoes an annual performance review which evaluates how well the employee is meeting their position's duties on a one to five scale. The review also considers job knowledge, the employee's representation of the city, communication skills, and goals as agreed upon by the employee and city administrator. Signed copies of the job descriptions and performance reviews are filed in individual personnel files. The files also contain W-4s, Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9s, copies of relevant certifications, and letters of acceptance. The city continues to budget for and provide training opportunities to its staff as needed and available. City staff have successfully completed several of the 32-hour RUBA management trainings, including Planning in December 2013, Personnel in January 2013, Elected Officials in October 2012, Clerks in September 2012 and April 2012, and QuickBooks in February 2013. RUBA staff has provided on-site training to the city council and city staff as requested.

 

Capacity Indicator: Organizational Management

Essential Indicators:

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:

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.

Comment:

The City of Coffman Cove owns and operates the community's sanitation systems. Ordinances giving the city the necessary operational and regulatory authority have been adopted and properly codified in Title VII of the local municipal code, which is readily available in print at the city office and online at the city's website. The seven-member city council is the city's governing authority and the utility's policy-making body. The council holds regular meetings as required by Alaska Statutes Title 29 on the third Thursday of each month. To comply with Alaska's Open Meetings Act, the city consistently posts notice of each meeting at least five days in advance at the city hall, the library, the post office, a local liquor store, and a local grocery store. Each notice indicates the type of meeting to be held, as well as its location, date, and time. The city council is active in policy-making for the utility, as evidenced in the six months of council meeting minutes reviewed by RUBA staff. The meetings minutes show that council is provided with written financial narratives, briefings on ongoing utility upgrade projects, staffing issues, training requests, and concerns of the public. The minutes also show that municipal acts, including resolutions and budget amendments, are adopted as necessary and in accordance with standard rules of parliamentary procedure. The city council has given itself the authority to amend its utility fee schedule and enter into billing arrangements and repayment plans with utility customers by resolution. All additional rules and regulations for water and wastewater service are outlined in Chapter 7.04 of the municipal code. The chapter's provisions are properly enforced; customers are assessed late fees, issued delinquency notices, and disconnected from service as required. The city administrator serves as utility manager. The administrator has received formal training from RUBA staff in the roles and responsibilities of public officials, ordinances and resolutions, budgeting, rate setting, Title 29 of state statute, the local municipal code, strategies for effective meetings, the Alaska Open Meetings Act, executive sessions, ex parte contact, and conflict of interest. From years of operating her own small business, the city administrator also brings critical financial management experience the city. She and other city officials actively seek management assistance from RUBA staff when necessary and attend RUBA UTM trainings when available. As noted in previous sections, the city utilizes the professional services of Alaska Business Partners in Ketchikan for most of its financial, accounting, tax-payment, and bookkeeping needs. Staff at Alaska Business Partners are willing and able to provide city officials with the financial resources and information that they need to effectively manage the community's utilities. Additionally, the city recently hired a new treasurer and a new city clerk who will be cross-trained to assist in utility billings and bookkeeping. These staff participated in the same formal trainings as the city administrator and the city clerk has received one-on-one training from RUBA staff on elements of her job description. The State of Alaska's Division of Water has rated Coffman Cove's water treatment system at the Class 2 level based on the plant's various components. Its primary operator is fully certified with a Level 2 endorsement that expires on December 31, 2015, and has already obtained the requisite number of Continued Education Units (CEUs)to renew certification. The city council has approved and formally adopted an organizational chart that reflects the current staff structure of the city.

 

Capacity Indicator: Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators:

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:

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".

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.

Comment:

As noted in the 'Organizational Management' section, the primary utility operator is adequately certified at the appropriate classification level for the city's water treatment and water distribution systems and continues to meet his CEU requirements on time. His current water treatment certificate expires December 31, 2015. The operator's distribution certificate is current and expires December 31, 2015. The primary operator is assisted by three uncertified - yet adequately trained - back-up operators. All utility staff follow a safety manual and preventative maintenance plan specific to Coffman Cove's equipment and participate in regular safety meetings. The meetings are documented on forms provided by AMLJIA that list the date of the meeting, the training topics discussed, the titles of any materials issued, and the names of employees present. Resources explaining general safety practices such as lifting and common workplace hazards are also available. Coffman Cove's sanitation facilities have not suffered any major outages due to management issues and continue to operate at the proposed level of service. City officials consult with the primary operator regularly and written utility status reports are given to the council each month. The utility now has an inventory control list, as well as a list of identifiable critical spare parts that includes the quantity on hand and quantity needed. It also includes a description of the parts as needed. Village Safe Water staff conducted a site visit to observe the progress of the replacement of a leaky valve vault of lift station number one and install a new control panel. The VSW Project Engineer reported that CRW advertised for bids from specialty contractors. The lowest bid was $27,000 more than the project can afford. Utility staff advised that they can seal the leaks with Avanti AV-330 grout, which the city has on hand, for a fraction of the contractor's cost. CRW gave the city the permission to do this. The project required removing an existing power pole and placing it in a new location. The pole had been removed and replaced but in a location different than that shown on the plans. The location shown in the plans is in rock. CRW approved the change. The water utility is currently on the Significant Non-Complier list, due to MCL violations.

RUBA Activities for the Coming Quarter:

In the next quarter, RUBA staff has been requested to visit the community and provide an elected officials training for the newly-elected council and other standing officials. RUBA staff will also continue to assist staff in identifying and tapping into sources of revenue and a possible water utility rate study, if necessary to demonstrate to the community the need for further revenue.