Quarterly Report: 2008, October - December (Q2), 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:
283  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
1/24/2008 
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. Recently the city had to file an DEC accidental discharge/spill notification report due to a leak in their sewage lagoon. They repaired it using 40 sand bags and hauled frozen leakage to the dump site. Currently, 53 homes are served by the piped water and sewer system. Funds have been requested to connect the remaining 13 homes and offices to the piped system. A new water treatment plant, washeteria, and sewage lagoon have been funded. The landfill is not permitted. Here is the status of the projects: The plans for the sewage lagoon, lift station, and force main are complete. The intent was to finish construction of these during the summer 2006 but due to asbestos in the gravel, NANA has not released any usuage of their gravel as yet. The City Office/Washeteria project has begun and expected to be completed by October 1st but to date the boiler just got hooked up and they have been waiting for a plumber before they can complete the project. The Water Treatment Plant design is 100% complete. They intended to start construction in the summer of 2007 and complete the project (including demolition of the existing water treatment plant) during the summer of 2007 but due to a mix up in the ordering of materials, they did not get the cement in time before freeze up so the foundation did not get started. Plans for the two water distribution system projects are complete, the city got the materials this fall and only were able to complete one home that froze last fall. The sewage lagoon prject started this fall but will need approximately an additional $500,000 or so to complete. The city need to get their operator certified in order to help maximize their points when applying for VSW funding. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Kotzebue RUBA/LGS provided on-site training and assistance to the new administrator and city clerk on financial management. She also provided phone and fax assistance during the quarter on payroll, policy clarification and termination procedures of Alaska Village Electric Co-operative (AVEC) employee. The City of Ambler has been unable to keep up with the operation and maintenance costs of city owned buildings and facilities over the last two years partly because there have not been enough water/sewer project jobs. Poor cash flow has affected the City's ability to keep critical spare parts on hand for emergencies and to plan for future operation and maintenance costs. Without jobs in the community, most residents have voluntarily disconnected from cable service in order to pay their water/sewer bill. The City disconnected five homes from water/sewer service due to non-payment, but most of those have used their permanent dividend to pay the outstanding utility bills. RUBA staff is assisting the City in determining the price per gallon of fuel to allow enough funds for future fuel shipments and operating costs. The cost per gallon of fuel to residents is now $7.00 a gallon.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff has scheduled to travel to Ambler in January to provide continued financial management and year end tax reporting training. She would also like to meet with the council on the RUBA assessment and evaluation training.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
26 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
22 of 27
Total Score:
48 of 54

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
No 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.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The administrator needs further training and assistance to present an amended budget to the council which is planned in January.

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
RUBA staff provided training and assistance this quarter. The new staff is working very hard to keep up with all the accounting functions.

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.
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.
Tax Problems Comments
New trained staff report that all taxes deposits and filing are current with RUBA staff reviewing submitted reports.

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.
No 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.
No 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
RUBA staff hopes to meet with the council on assessment in January and provide training in this area. The new administrator's probationary period has lapsed so RUBA staff has cautioned the council to follow through with their policies and do this as soon as possible.

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.
No 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 operator fell ill this last quarter and could not attend the operator training session. Staff is working with Maniilaq to schedule another training session for him to attend.

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.
No 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
Staff has not presented RUBA with evidence it held a safety meeting with new operator mainly due to no Remote Maintenance Worker for the last six months.