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

Community:
Aleknagik 
Staff:
Glen Hamburg  
DCRA Regional Office:
Dillingham regional office 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
Yes 
Agreement Date:
2/11/2014 
Entity:
City of Aleknagik 
Population:
211 2013 Department of Labor Estimate 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
12/21/2011 
Exp Date:
12/27/2013 
Last Updated:
4/17/2014 
Community Sanitation Overview:
Aleknagik is located at the head of Wood River on the southeast end of Lake Aleknagik, 16 miles northwest of Dillingham. The majority of the roughly 49 homes in the community are plumbed and draw water from individual wells. Approximately 12 households do not have water or wastewater service. Some residents haul water from the community center and a few are served by a spring well catchment system. Wastewater tanks, leach fields, and a public wastewater lagoon are used for wastewater disposal. The North Shore section of the community uses 11 shared effluent pumps (REP units) which discharge into a piped wastewater system. Nushagak Electric Cooperative in Dillingham provides electricity to Aleknagik. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
RUBA staff traveled to Aleknagik this quarter to provide training and assistance with several utility management issues, including revision of utility staff job descriptions and an associated organizational chart, drafting of amendments to utility-related ordinances, and the conduct of effective city council meetings. The visit also allowed RUBA staff to provide advice on personnel matters, to clarify the city’s tax payment requirements, and to assist with preparing for a special election on an initiative that, if approved by local voters, would help to support the financial viability of city services, including sanitation services. This quarter, RUBA staff also provided regular assistance in the drafting and review of ordinances, notices, and special election ballots. RUBA staff also advised newly-hired finance staff on the city’s audit requirements under state and federal law, and provided staff resources related to financial management, such as the Payroll Handbook for Small Communities and the RUBA Financial Management for Rural Utilities training student manual. Further, RUBA staff advised city officials on the executive session guidelines in the Open Meetings Act, assisted in proposing ordinance amendments to clarify supervisory authorities, and verified that the city is current in making its state and federal tax payments. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
City officials have requested on-site training for the city’s elected officials next quarter; RUBA staff will coordinate with the city to schedule a training that addresses utility management issues relevant to the city. RUBA staff will also encourage city staff to attend the Financial Management for Rural Utilities training in Dillingham in May, and will continue to provide one-on-one training and technical assistance to city staff as necessary. Next quarter, RUBA staff will assist in completing a utility ordinance codification effort, as well, provide further guidance on how to amend personnel-related ordinances to ensure clarity and consistency, and advise that regular safety meetings between city staff be held and documented.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
24 of 24
Sustainable Indicators:
22 of 25
Total Score:
46 of 49

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.
N/A 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 Aleknagik follows the State’s fiscal year running from July 1 to June 30 and adopted its FY14 budget timely by non-code ordinance on May 14, 2013. The budget compares projected FY14 income and expenses alongside actual FY13 values, allowing the utility to ensure that allocations for this fiscal year are realistic. Water and wastewater service expenses, which include salaries, payroll taxes, repair and maintenance costs, fuel, insurance, and other necessary appropriations, are grouped separately in the budget from other city functions. The city expects to spend approximately $13,500 providing water and wastewater services in FY14, but to generate less than $2,000 in user fees. The remaining expenses are met with subsidies from the city’s general fund which originate from the Community Revenue Sharing and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) programs, local taxes, and profits from other city services. The administrator and bookkeeper provide the city council with detailed monthly financial reports. These reports compare actual year-to-date revenues and expenses with the budget, and include graphs and diagrams tracking income and expenses over time. In addition to the budget’s repair and replacement line item, there is a separate Repair and Replacement account into which funds are being set aside to meet future sanitation infrastructure needs in the community. A review of city council meeting minutes shows that the administrator provides a written managerial report on the utility at its regular monthly meetings.

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
The city’s utility ordinance was adopted in June 2008 and includes procedures for collecting on delinquent accounts and the signing of repayment agreements. A review of accounts receivable reports by RUBA staff shows that utility bills are issued within the first six business days of each month as required by the utility's billing procedures, but that there are some customers with accounts more than 90 days past due. The city has demonstrated that it is actively seeking to collect on these accounts. The city uses QuickBooks Pro 2013 for its bookkeeping functions, including generating customer invoices, recording customer payments, processing payroll, and tracking accounts payable. Utility staff are proficient in using QuickBooks and the city’s newly-hired bookkeeper has educational and professional background in finance and accounting. The city clerk writes a receipt for any income received and a copy of each receipt is kept in sequentially-numbered receipt books. Once a week, new data from the receipt book is entered into the utility's computerized accounting system. All payments by the utility are made by check or credit card. Every check issued includes an amount, an expense account, and a description of the payment’s purpose. The data for every check written is recorded in a check register. All credit card statements are reconciled and expenses classed in the QuickBooks file. A copy of paid invoices is kept in the vendor files. The utility's chart of accounts identifies all asset accounts (un-deposited funds, bank accounts, and accounts receivable), all liability accounts (current, long-term, and payroll liabilities), and fund balances. Income and expense accounts are identified in a manner that matches the income and expense line items in the budget. Bank reconciliations are current. The utility adopted a purchasing policy in 2002. The policy requires approval from the mayor for purchases.

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 city uses QuickBooks accounting software to calculate, track and report payroll tax liabilities. The IRS’s taxpayer advocacy service confirmed on February 4, 2014 that the City of Aleknagik is current with its federal tax reporting and deposit requirements. The State's Department of Labor and Workforce Development confirmed on March 21, 2014 that the city’s employment security tax payments are current as well. The city is not listed on the November-December 2013 Lien Watch report.

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
RUBA staff verified on March 12, 2014 that the city has a valid workers’ compensation insurance policy through the Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA) and notice of coverage has been posted at the city office. A copy of the City of Aleknagik’s personnel policies, where were formally adopted January 2012 and address all necessary personnel matters, is on file with RUBA staff. Job descriptions are up-to-date and outline each employee's required duties; RUBA staff has copies of these job descriptions, as well as employee evaluation forms, on file. The council performs employee evaluations on an annual basis. RUBA staff has verified during a recent on-site visit to the community that personnel files contain all the required forms. City staff has attended various RUBA courses and a review of council meeting minutes shows that the city is supportive of employees gaining the training they need. The FY14 budget allocates appropriate funding to utility staff travel and training costs.

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 utility ordinance identifies the city as owner and operator of the sanitation utilities available in the community. A review of meeting minutes confirms that the council, the utility’s governing body, reviews utility policies and rates on an annual basis and makes changes as needed. Meeting minutes also confirm that the council takes an active role in enforcing utility policy. The city administrator fills the role of utility manager, developing and supervising the utility budget, supervising all utility-related staff, and providing monthly reports to the governing body. The city clerk has three years of on-the-job experience and has attended a QuickBooks training class sponsored by the RUBA Program. She maintains all of the utility accounting systems in a professional and timely manner. The city administrator has successfully completed various RUBA courses, including Planning Management for Rural Utilities and Organizational Management for Rural Utilities. The city accountant has educational and professional experience in finance and accounting. With the assistance of RUBA staff, the city revised its organizational chart to reflect changes in its staffing structure; the chart was formally adopted by council motion in March 2014. Regular council meetings are held once a month and special meetings are held as needed. Copies of meetings-related documents show that they are held in accordance with Alaska’s Open Meetings Act.

Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
N/A 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.
N/A The operator provides status reports to the manager on a routine basis.
N/A 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.
Operation of Utility Comments
The City of Aleknagik operates a wastewater lagoon and pumping service, but does not provide any sanitation service which requires a certified operator or the completion of an annual Consumer Confidence Report. The city has no sanitation utility listed on the January 2014 Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list. City staff have a basic preventative maintenance plan on file for the services they do offer, but no evidence has been shown to RUBA staff of an inventory control or critical spare parts list.