Quarterly Report: 2012, January - March (Q3), Ambler

Community:
Ambler 
Staff:
Margaret Hansen  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Ambler 
Population:
278  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
5/1/2012 
Community Sanitation Overview:
The main source of water for the community is a 167' well near the Kobuk River. Water is pumped 940 feet to the treatment facility and stored in a 210,000-gallon insulated tank, then piped to most homes. An 80' standby well is also located at the water treatment plant. Sewage is collected via six and eight inch arctic pipes and flows to a facultative lagoon through two lift stations where it discharges to a natural watershed, then the Kobuk River. Currently, 53 homes are served by the piped water and sewer system. The washeteria project is still incomplete since no new funding has been secured. The new lift station and lagoon was operational in January 2011. This new construction has made operations much easier. The construction of a new water treatment plant is 65% complete with building shell up and plumbing and electrical underway; construction is estimated to be complete in may 2012. A new community water well was developed and is ready to be brought online. Last year ANTHC secured $435,000 in funding from the AEA for hear recovery in the water treatment plant. The heat recovery system design is complete and construction began in September 2011, with construction expected to be complete in July 2012. ANTHC has provided water plant building information to NWAB for the solar panel installation project and will consult the structural engineer when provided the solar panel layout/design. in addition an update to the existing master plan is 95% complete and scheduled to be completed in January 2012. ANTHC is preparing a report on the climate change in Ambler, Alaska Strategies for community health. The Ambler City Council have turned over the water plant operations to Alaska Rural Utilities Collabrative (ARUC)starting August 1st, 2010.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Kotzebue staff provided on site, phone, email and fax assistance and training to new clerk and new administrator this last quarter on year end tax reporting, payroll tax deductions, AVEC operator back pay and status of fuel that has to be flown in coordinting with Everts. During her visit to Ambler, she was able to provide training and assistance to the council and staff on balancing their 4th quarter tax report, bank reconciliations, monthly financial reports, amended their FY 2012 budget, assured they understand and pass their FY 2011 certified financial statement, plan for their fuel and gas needs in the future, information about the bulk fuel loan programs, plans to go out for a request for proposal to do a sales tax audit on the tribal fuel farm already budgeted for, coordinate with Alaska Rural Utility Collabrative, (ARUC), and preparing to complete their year end tax reconciliations in order to balance to their W-3. She also held a council training worksession to amend their FY 2012 budget. Kotzebue staff discussed with the council while in Ambler, in the event the tribe, who has the only gas tank farm, cannot get out of debt, the city should be prepared to sell gas as well. Staff will look into price quotes for the city to purchase a 2000 gallon gas tank to sell to the community when the tribe cannot. Kotzebue staff wrote a letter to the tribe, carbon copying the president of the tribe, last year informing them of the bulk fuel loans and offered assistance in completing those documents, but never received a response Because the tribe continues to run out of fuel, who owns the only bulk fuel tank farm, the city has had to borrow fuel from the school district to sell to its residents. The city had to purchase a 3,000 gallons fuel tank to sell to its residents three years ago due to the tribe not having fuel available all the time. Even the city currently has problems getting fuel in due to weather. ARUC has had problems with a frozen lift station which provides wastewater services to five homes on the river road. They had it thawed within 10 days. The Remote Maintenance Worker had traveled with RUBA staff to Ambler this last quarter to meet with the Mayor to discuss the system; meet with Summit owner and project engineer to discuss current and future projects; and to inspect water plant project. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
I received an email requesting I travel to Ambler to train the new administrator who was the new clerk. RUBA staff will request for travel once they have hired the new replacement clerk.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
27 of 27
Total Score:
53 of 53

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 ARUC financials shows that they do have a balanced realistic budget and the monthly financial reports shows that all revenues and expenses for the utility are listed that they report to the council on a monthly basis. During the last quarter, and as reported in the utilities report, the financials show that they received double the amount of revenue than expended paying all utility bills. This documents that they are receiving user fees to cover their operating expenses and repair and replacement costs. Although they were able to have some fuel delivered by barge, they are using their budget to fly in fuel as needed at this time. No budget amendment is needed at this time.

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
ARUC bills customers on a monthly basis actively following the adopted collection policy. On March 15, 2012, they sent out disconnection notices to 16 customers most of whom either paid their bill in full or worked out a payment plan. They now have a 112% collection rate. They utilize an accounting system that tracks customers which reports past due amounts, an accounts payable system, payroll system that correctly calculates payroll and keeps payroll records. Their system records all incoming money and how it was spent using a cash disbursement system. ARUC use their budget line items as their chart of accounts, reconciling their bank accounts before completing their monthly reports. They use their budget and latest monthly financial report before approving purchases using purchase orders that are approved and recorded.

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
According to the completed tax authorization reports from IRS and the Department of Labor, they have no known debt so they are current on filing and depositing tax and reports using their utility system that accurately calculates, track and report payroll tax liabilities.

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
ARUC and The city has paid in full workers compensation insurance which they posted which will remain in effect until October 2012 as verified by AML/JIA and a copy of their insurance coverage on file. They city has an adopted personnel policy which has been reviewed by AMl which provides a written personnel evaluation process that ties into their adequately written job descriptions. The city follows an adequate written hiring process and has a probationary period for new hires that includes orientation, job training oversite and evaluations. ARUC provides training opportunities to employees on site and any training the Department of Environmental Conservation puts on through Maniilaq Association but they do not have funds to cover the costs to send other utility personnel or council members to RUBA training as needed.

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 knows and enforces policy in order to effectively run their utility complying with the open meetings act meeting monthly. They work with ARUC and support them with all their decisions. They have adopted an organizational chart that reflects their current structure showing that the adequately trained administrator who oversees all staff of the oranization following the ordinances necessary that they adopted to give it the authority. We also have on file the ARUC organizational chart as well. ARUC has a trained manager and bookkeeper who reports to the council on the operations of the utility. The operator is still not certified but plans on attending any training available.

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.
Yes The utility maintains an inventory control list.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The two operators have been actively working towards their certification. The Remote Maintenance Worker continues to train and assist on site. As needed, the city authorizes emergency labor to assist with the recent lift station frozen pump problem and receive reimbursement from ARUC. They do follow the preventative maintenance plan which helps them from suffering any major problems so it is operating at the level proposed and maintains an inventory control lists and critical spare parts list. They have distributed their completed Consumer Confidence Report. They have held safety meetings and the manager receives a monthly report from the operators and routinely spot checks the facilities to see that the maintenance are being completed. They are not on the SNC list.