RUBA Community Status Report

Community Name: Nulato


Community:

Nulato

RUBA:

No

Staff:

Jeremy Johnson

Agreement:

No

DCA Region:

Fairbanks

Agreement Date:

Region:

Interior

Exp Date:

Govt Type(s):

2nd Class City

Borough:

Unorganized

Assessment Date:

Population:

264

Active Community:

Yes

Date Updated:

10/4/2013


Community Sanitation Overview:

The City of Nulato operates two washeterias and a piped water system to a portion of the residents. Water is derived from a well near the mouth of the Nulato River, pumped two miles to a treatment plant in the Old Townsite, and pumped an additional 1.5 miles to a 129,000 gallon holding tank in the New Townsite. Water treatment is minimal. The Old Townsite Washeteria, constructed in 1974, utilizes an independent well (separate from the well used for the piped system). In addition to washers and dryers, the facility has showers and a community watering point; a new wastewater lagoon was completed in 2003. Approximately 30 homes in the Old Townsite lack piped water and wastewater service and the residents haul water from the watering point or the Nulato River, and use honey buckets or outhouses. The New Townsite Laundromat was constructed in 1988 and the piped water and wastewater system was constructed in 1996. Piped service is provided to approximately 57 paying customers. During the summer 2010 construction season, new service pipe was buried to vacant residential lots and five existing homes were connected.

RUBA Status
and Activities
this Quarter:

On September 3, Fairbanks RUBA staff traveled to Nulato and provided election and bookkeeping training. The council is the policy making body for the utility. Fairbanks RUBA provided municipal election training and assisted the clerk in preparing forms for the municipal election. RUBA staff assisted the clerk in drafting resolution 13-05, a resolution appointing election judges. RUBA staff spoke with the clerk about amending Nulatos election ordinances, a project that RUBA staff and Nulato personnel will work on this winter. RUBA staff spoke with the Nulato treasurer about utilizing the AMLJIA investment fund or alternate investment opportunities for Nulato investment accounts. RUBA staff and Nulato's treasurer worked with the citys new bookkeeper. The Bookkeeper is very new in the position, but seems to be learning quickly, and is detail oriented and organized. Nulato's city office employees manage time and resources efficiently and effectively. Also during this quarter, Nulato's clerk contacted Fairbanks RUBA staff requesting a set of interview questions for the bookkeeping position. Fairbanks staff created and supplied interview questions and an applicant evaluation rubric so the Nulato City Council can utilize the interview questions and applicants in a fair manner. On August 2, Nulato personnel contacted Fairbanks RUBA staff requesting information on how to run a profit and loss statement for the City of Nulato for Nulato to utilize as their financial documentation for a certified financial statement for the City of Nulato for FY'13. Fairbanks staff provided information to generate the report, and provided background information on what a Certified Financial Statement is, and information on the resolution to certify the financial statement.

 

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.

No

A monthly manager's report is prepared.

No

Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.

Comment:

The city is in a good financial position. Income is below what was budgeted for this time period, specifically the Capital Grants (CDBG-Community Hall) and Service Fund Income (Nulato Life Project Grants) line item accounts. If the city is certain no more grant money will be received, a budget amendment can occur and reduce the budgeted income closer to what was actually received. Total expenses are below what was budgeted. However, line item account, Insurance and Bonding went way over budget, it should be considered for an amendment. Travel and Per Diem and WS Parts/Supplies have also gone over budget. It is recommend to review each department that has a negative net income,the Downtown Laundromat for example, and do a general ledger adjustment to move money from a department with a positive net income.

 

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:

A village Safe Water employee asked RUBA staff about the management of Nulato and the collection rate, which is 92 percent. The city has good success with delinquent accounts by turning them over to Cornerstone Collection agency. The city uses QuickBooks and is successful with the accounting program. While on-site, the chart of accounts was reviewed and many accounts were inactivated or combined to create a shorter list, an easier to use list.

 

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 city is compliant with the IRS. The city is compliant with the DOL.

 

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.

No

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:

On September 12 Fairbanks LGS staff spoke with Nulato city employees about special meetings, and executive sessions. LGS staff let Nulato staff know that an executive session regarding city office staff could be done at a special meeting, so long as notice was posted. LGS staff was also spoke with staff on the relationship Nulato employees have with the city council. Individual council members have been directing city employees, rather than the council working as a whole. The mayor has not been reviewing employee time sheets, and the mayor has not been managing personnel issues. The city uses the services of AMLJIA for personnel issues. The city has a worker's compensation insurance policy in effect through AMLJIA, and October 3 verification proves the coverage. RUBA, city staff, and AMLJIA reviewed and updated the personnel manual in 2011, the recommended updates were presented to and adopted by the council. Job descriptions exist for every position; RUBA reviewed the descriptions and some minor updates were recommended. Letters of acceptance do not exist in every employees file. The city has fairly stable staff; the water operator has over 20 years experience, the city office staff comprises of three individuals with various lengths of employment ranging from four to one year.

 

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 passed an ordinance providing the authority to own and operate the utility. The city council is the ultimate governing body for the utility. According to the city council meeting minutes they are active in policy making and enforcing existing policy. The manager and utility staff are adequate and perform their duties well. The city has an organizational chart in the standard chart format and it also has the chain of command in a text document; the mayor manages the employees and there are so few employees that all employees are directly under the supervision of the mayor. The council meets every month and the meetings conform to the open meetings act.

 

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".

Yes

The utility is not on the "Significant Non-Complier" (SNC) list.

No

The utility maintains an inventory control list.

No

The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.

Comment:

A trip report from the Remote Maintenance Worker on June 7 indicated under the heading Critical Observation, that no spare magnetic starter was in stock. The water plant operator, Greg Patsy, is current on his certifications and based on the physical appearance of the document, the operator uses the preventative maintenance plan. Copies of the cover and title pages were made and RUBA staff reviewed the manuals. The water plant operator provides a daily activity log to the mayor and council member. The city clerk attends AMLJIA safety meetings and at the monthly employee meetings presents the topics. The utility has been operating at the level provided and is not suffering any outages. A copy of the last CCR was made and the utility is not on the most current, July 2013, SNC list. RUBA staff met with the operator to try and determine if lists of inventory or spare parts were used, but the operator did not have any such list. He indicated that he has a good idea of inventory in his head but conceded that in his absence others would be at a disadvantage.

RUBA Activities for the Coming Quarter:

RUBA staff will continue to provide assistance as needed, the city clerk and RUBA staff have a good relationship and speak about once a week.