RUBA Community Status Report

Community Name: Buckland


Community:

Buckland

RUBA:

Yes

Staff:

Margaret Hansen

Agreement:

Yes

DCA Region:

Kotzebue

Agreement Date:

5/9/2012

Region:

Northwest Arctic

Exp Date:

Govt Type(s):

2nd Class City

Borough:

Northwest Arctic Borough

Assessment Date:

5/9/2012

Population:

457

Active Community:

Yes

Date Updated:

10/4/2013


Community Sanitation Overview:

The water is pumped from the Buckland River and stored in a 750,000 gallon tank. It is treated with filtration and chlorination at the old water plant stored in a smaller tank, then pressurized and distributed to the community through a buried piped system. Wastewater is collected through a gravity wastewater system and pumped through a one mile forcemain to the lagoon. The piped water and wastewater system is under construction and is being built in phases. The downtown water main loop is complete, and work will start on the midtown/uptown loop in 2013. Fifty homes, the clinic, the native store, and city office have piped service. Various parts of town will come online in phases each year through 2014, pending adequeate funding. Plans are being developed to treat the water in the new plant to meet all drinking water standards including DBP's. The residents are charged for piped water and wastewater service through the assisted billing program with Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the collection rate is excellent. The Corps of Engineers (COE) is planning to provide a new water intake. Residents who do not have service yet continue to haul water and use honeybuckets. The community has a central washeteria, which is a combination laundromat, toilet, shower facility, and a watering point. The waterplant and washeteria utilize waste heat extensively.

RUBA Status
and Activities
this Quarter:

On July 8, Kotzebue RUBA staff traveled to Buckland with the RUBA QuickBooks contractor to provide two-and-a-half days of on-site QuickBooks training and assistance to the new administrator and clerk. RUBA staff showed them how to read and understand financial reports, make the chart of accounts and the reporting formats more manageable, and complete financial reports for June. The clerk said this is the best accounting software she has worked with, making her job much easier and more efficient. RUBA staff also drafted a six-month work plan, contacted the citys Village Safe Water (VSW) engineer regarding a new water system project, and assisted the administrator and project engineer in gathering signed easement forms and other documents needed to complete work this summer. On August 7, Kotzebue RUBA staff verified with the clerk that a work order to Kotzebue Electric Association (KEA) was completed to transfer ownership of the water plant and lift station electric charges from VSW to the city. RUBA staff discussed how the clerk's new knowledge of QuickBooks is going following the on-site assistance. The clerk stated she is very pleased with all the training she received and noted that it is saving her time and she is able to provide more accurate and timely information to the council. RUBA staff also discussed the disconnection of customers per the RUBA workplan. The clerk reported that all customers connected to the new water and wastewater system are being disconnected per policy. Kotzebue RUBA staff participated in a teleconference regarding the citys water and wastewater project. In attendance was the Denali Commission, The US Army Corp of Engineers, Village Safe Water and the Buckland city council. All agencies gave an update of the project including funding needed to complete the work for the water intake project next year. The city administrator attended the RUBA Utility Financial Management course in April and the utility clerk and assistant attended the utility clerk training in June 2013. In addition, the RUBA Program arranged for the QuickBooks contractor to conduct training for the administrator and clerk on-site in July 2013. The city is meeting all essential indicators.

 

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.

N/A

Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.

Comment:

The city has adopted a balanced realistic budget that lists all the revenues and expenses for the utility. RUBA staff has received copies of council meeting minutes and the latest monthly finance reports that the council approved. The reports show that the community is current in paying all water/wastewater electric bills and has a financial plan to purchase an adequate supply of fuel. In reviewing the August monthly financial report, no budget amendment is necessary at this time. They are receiving enough revenue to cover operating expenses and have budgeted for minor emergency water/wastewater problems. Currently, the utility is receiving revenues above those budgeted and expenses are at a level equal to those budgeted. They have a 93 percent collection rate. A written report is provided to the council at their monthly meeting.

 

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:

The city has adopted a collection policy that they actively follow and bill customers on a monthly basis. They are on an assisted billing program with Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) which documents a 93 percent collection rate. The city utilizes QuickBooks, which correctly calculates payroll, income, and accounts payable. Before purchases are made, staff checks the budget (which is their chart of accounts)and reviews the reconciled monthly financial report before approving expenditures.

 

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.

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.

Comment:

The IRS and State Department of Labor have confirmed that the city has filed reports and paid all tax liabilities. No past due liabilities or tax liens are recorded.

 

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:

The city's workers compensation insurance policy is in effect through June 30, 2014. They are insured by Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA). AMLJIA verified that the city paid their insurance premium in full for 2014. The city has an adopted personnel policy that was reviewed by an attorney. Job descriptions are used when evaluating staff per written personnel policy, allowing staff to grow professionally by providing training opportunities as needed. This quarter city staff received on site training and assistance from the RUBA QuickBooks contractor. They use the hiring process outlined in the adopted personnel policy. When a new employee is hired, they are provided job orientation and oversight - especially during the probationary period - to assure a smooth transition. Personnel files contain all necessary documentation such as a completed I-9 form, job application and letter of acceptance.

 

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 council is the known entity that is operating the new water/wastewater system. They are active in enforcing utility policy. Buckland's administrator is experienced and has worked for the city in the past as well as the tribe. Kotzebue RUBA noted that the administrator and the clerk have both successfully completed on-site QuickBooks class. The operators are certified and attend training sessions to further their certifications. A second alternate also received certification for water treatment and water distribution. The governing body has adopted the necessary ordinances to give the utility the authority to operate. An organizational chart has been adopted that reflects the current structure. The council meets monthly and follows the Open Meetings Act for all meetings.

 

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:

The main operator has certificates for Water Distribution Provisional, Wastewater Collection Provisional, Wastewater Treatment Provisional and Water Treatment 2. The utility also has two alternates. One recently received a certificate for water treatment 1 and water distribution 1 the other received certification for Water Treatment Provisional and Water Distribution Provisional. The main operator is working with the superintendant of the new water/wastewater project to develop a preventative maintenance plan for the new project. The facilities are spot checked, to assure that maintenance tasks are being completed. Safety meetings are being held daily as the project progresses. There have been no outages due to management issues and the utility is operating at the level proposed. The operator meets with the administrator daily and maintains an inventory and critical spare parts list. The July 2013 Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list notes that the system is still having problems with high DPBs, but is doing well in monitoring them. The system has a copper first draw action level exceedance. A water treatment study report was received by Alaska State Department of Environmental Conservation on July 9, 2012. This report identifies the water treatment technology needed to treat Buckland's water. As of May 2013, 35% design for new treatment was not complete.

RUBA Activities for the Coming Quarter:

Kotzebue RUBA staff will continue to work with staff to meet sustainable indicators and follow through with the RUBA workplan