Quarterly Report: 2014, January - March (Q3), Teller

Community:
Teller 
Staff:
Leroy Seppilu  
DCRA Regional Office:
Nome regional office 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
Yes 
Agreement Date:
5/1/2010 
Entity:
City of Teller 
Population:
241 2013 Department of Labor Estimate 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
11/18/2013 
Exp Date:
11/18/2015 
Last Updated:
4/4/2014 
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Teller does not have a piped water/wastewater utility. During the summer, water is piped in from Coyote Creek, a couple of miles east of the school. The water is treated and stored in a large storage tank. In the winter, treated water is delivered from the large storage tank at the washeteria or residents use melted ice from area creeks. A few residents use their own ATV's or snowmachines to haul water. The school operates its own wastewater system. Within the last few years, the City of Teller has formed a planning commission to meet periodically and discuss topics crucial to the well being of the community. The commission has developed the Teller Local Economic Development Plan. The commission has prioritized several projects, with the water and wastewater system development at the top of the priority list. In February 2011, CE2 Engineers, Inc. released a draft Sanitation Facilities Master Plan which identified four options for the City of Teller. The first option proposed to keep the current status without making any changes to the system. The second option suggested building a water and wastewater haul system. The third option was to build a fully piped water and wastewater service to Coyote Creek subdivision (28 houses), a watering point at the townsite washeteria, and a honeybucket collection system in the townsite (52 houses). The last option proposed construction of a fully piped water and wastewater service to Coyote Creek subdivision (28 houses) and townsite (52 houses). In April of 2011, the city council voted to approve the construction of a fully piped water and wastewater service at the new site and the townsite. The Village Safe Water Program (VSW) is reviewing the Teller Sanitation Facilities Master Plan prepared by CE2 Engineers, Inc. If federal and state funding become available, VSW will assist the City of Teller in applying for grants.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
RUBA staff attended at least one teleconference with the Village Safe Water (DEC-VSW) and the Teller City Council to discuss the turning over the management and operation of the water treatment plant that is currently owned by Bering Strait School District. The goal is to complete the effort by summer of 2014. There are several identified issues the City, Remote Maintenance Worker, RUBA and VSW will need to do before it can be handed over. RUBA staff is assisting the Teller City Council and City Clerk to determine if the City Clerk will be able to handle the duties and responsibilities of the position of a utility manager or if the new duties and responsibilities by the City Clerk will be overwhelming to and for her. RUBA staff is also reviewing what the costs of owning and managing the water treatment plant will be for the City. Then the City Council can determine what to charge customers who use use large amounts of treated water. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will travel at least three times for this quarter to work on the identified issues. They are: 1. Determine whether or not it is feasible to the current City Clerk take over the duties and responsibilities of a utility manager. A draft job description will be reviewed with the City Council and City Clerk. If there is too much responsibility, a new utility clerk/manager position may have to be created. A water treatment plant operator will be created as well. An alternate operator may be included as well. 2. RUBA staff may also travel to Unalakleet to meet with maintenance personnel of the Bering Strait School District to gather information about the cost of managing and operating the water treatment plant currently owned and operated by the school district.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
24 of 25
Total Score:
50 of 51

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
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.
Finances Comments
The City of Teller does not currently manage or operate the water treatment plant. The BSSD manages and operates the plant. The city of Teller manages the washeteria which is connected to the water treatment plant. The city and BSSD have an agreement to have the city use the treated water for the washeteria and watering point, at the washeteria, for the community use. The city has a maintenance employee who makes repairs at the washeteria as needed. The washeteria and the trash and honey-bucket haul services are still heavily subsidized by the City. The reason is that both of the services provide essential and health needs of the community. The YTD revenues and expenditures are about where they should be for this quarter. Monthly financial reports are prepared by the City Clerk. The City Clerk also prepares monthly utility reports to the City Council. The City has not made a budget amendment as the budget pass is adequate.

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
Since they city does not operate or manage the water plant, they are not required to bill water customers. However, the city bills regularly for trash and honey-bucket haul services and charges for washeteria use. The city has a collection policy in place for the trash and honey-bucket haul service. The collection rate for the services provided to the residential customers remains basically the same. The community of Teller is one of the most Low-to Moderate-Income (LMI) communities in the region. The community members are reliant heavily on subsistence hunting and fishing. The City Clerk has created and is using a chart of account for budgetary revenues and expenditures. QuickBooks is used exclusively for all the City's financial management, including payroll calculation and payroll record keeping, cash receipt system and cash disbursement of all its funds.

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 utility has a system to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities using QuickBooks. The utility is current on filing payroll liabilities reports and tax liabilities and all tax deposits. The city's current Employment Security Contribution (ESC) Employer rate is 3.29 percent, which is a high average. The city clerk keeps in touch with IRS and Employment Security Division about any issues or questions as they arise. The City Clerk completed and gave out the W-2s for last year's employees and submitted the W-2s, W-3T in a timely manner.

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 utility and BSSD have a posted workers compensation insurance policy. Both entities are current with workers compensation coverage to July 1, 2014. The city clerk continues to train the office aide with the city clerk duties and responsibilities, including billing for trash/honey-bucket haul services and collection of washeteria services. The city has a comprehensive personnel policy, which includes a written hiring policy. The evaluation process ties the job description to the evaluation. Personnel folders contain all the required information. Training opportunities are made available to staff as funding allows.

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
No 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 holds regular monthly meetings and special meetings as needed. Water plant and washeteria issues are in the agenda and discussed. Action is taken to remedy and resolve any issues related to the services. The city clerk acts as a treasurer and supervisor to all the city employees. Since the city does not own or manage the water treatment plant, there are no water treatment plant operators employed by the city. However, the city council is in the process of hiring at least two water plant operators, one as the main operator and the other as an alternate operator. Both will be enrolled to upcoming provisional operator training programs and will begin training to operate the plant. RUBA staff has is assisting the city in creating the necessary ordinances that will be needed once they take over the operation of the water plant.

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.
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.
N/A The utility maintains an inventory control list.
N/A The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
BSSD has a certified regional operator located in Unalakleet who travels to the community on a regular basis and as needed to assist the local operator. BBSD has a preventative maintenance plan for the water plant. The city has a maintenance employee who makes repairs at the washeteria as needed. The city will also send at least two employees to a Level 1 provisional operator training this fall/winter. The BSSD routinely updates the city about issues in the water plant. The BBSD has a safety program in place for all staff. The water plant is not on the SNC list. It was reported there is an inventory control and critical spare parts list; however they were not supplied to RUBA staff.