Quarterly Report: 2009, January - March (Q3), Fort Yukon

Community:
Fort Yukon 
Staff:
Andy Durny  
DCRA Regional Office:
 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Borough:
 
Agreement?
No 
Agreement Date:
 
Entity:
City of Fort Yukon 
Population:
591  
Assessment Status:
 
Assessment Date:
 
Exp Date:
 
Last Updated:
5/8/2009 
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water is derived from two wells, is treated, and then stored in a 110,000-gallon tank. A combination of piped water, water delivery and individual wells serves households. A flush/haul system, septic tanks, honey buckets and outhouses are used for sewage disposal. Approximately half of all homes are plumbed. The piped water system and household septic tanks were installed in 1984. The City has received funds to repair the piped water system (repairs are on going, as needed) and to construct a piped gravity sewer system which is expected to be completed in 2010. Additional funding will be needed to complete subsequent stages of the overall project. Electricity is provided by Gwitchyaa Zhee Utilities: waste heat from the electric utility may be available for the water/wastewater utility pending available funding and agreement between the utilities: it is recommended that this option should be actively pursued.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Fairbanks RUBA staff traveled to Fort Yukon on March 31, 2009 to meet with the city staff and collect documentation to update the RUBA assessment. The city owns and operates a water/wastewater system that includes a small public laundromat, a piped water and wastewater system, and a flush/haul system. Operating expenses for the system are high but the city is able to generate sufficient revenues from user fees and from locally generated general funds. The city staff were very helpful in providing all documentation requested. RUBA staff was impressed with improvements in the financial recordkeeping and in the organization of the financial records. The improved recordkeeping processes should help the city to address significant challenges it will have to face in the next few years if expenses (particularly for fuel and electricity) continue to rise and if revenues continue to decline. The acting manager expressed some concern that the local electric utility will not be able to meet the increasing demands for electrical consumption with the existing generators. The city is looking at options for securing funding to get a new generator or to provide alternate energy sources. City Council Member Paul Shewfelt contacted RUBA requesting information regarding possible funding sources for a new power generator. He had some concerns that the generators currently in Fort Yukon will not meet all the needs of the water utility. He was referred to Alaska Energy Authority and also recommended that he discuss his concerns with the project engineer for the current Fort Yukon water/wastewater project. RUBA staff will continue to maintain contact with the city and to provide assistance as needed.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Fairbanks RUBA staff will continue to monitor and assist as needed, in particular by offering assistance with development of the FY-10 budget.
Scores:
 
Essential Indicators:
27 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
25 of 27
Total Score:
52 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
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 adopted a balanced, realistic budget that includes income and expenses for the utility. The budget shows that the utility does not generate sufficient revenues from user fees to cover all operating expenses, but that the city collects enough locally generated general fund revenues from other sources to cover the difference. The city treasurer provides regular monthly financial reports to the governing body that compare year-to-date income and expenditures to the budgeted amounts. The local power company confirmed that the city is current in paying its electric bills. The city purchases fuel for the water/wastewater utility from the local bulk fuel distributor. Fuel expenditures are higher than anticipated because of higher per/gallon cost and increased demand caused by longer than normal periods of extreme cold this winter, but fuel consumption is expected to decrease sharply in the remaining months of the current fiscal year. The utility has identified a repair and replacement fund. Revenues appear to be higher than anticipated, but expenditures are also higher than anticipated, especially for fuel, utilities, and gross wages. The city has made two budget amendments: additional budget amendments may be needed before the end of the fiscal year. Despite higher expenditures for fuel, utilities and other expenses, the city seems to be generating sufficient revenues to maintain a balanced budget.

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 accounting systems seem to be well organized, current, and in good order. The utility has a collection policy. The utility does not follow all the specific procedures of the collection policy, because of concern that disconnecting customer service during the winter months may result in operational problems (actual service disconnections are performed in the summer months). Nonetheless, the utility is active in trying to enforce collections. Customers are billed on a regular monthly basis and the utility mails out customer statements each month. The customer statements provide information regarding invoiced items, amounts billed, payments, and balances. The accounts receivable system tracks customers and reports current and past due accounts and amounts in a satisfactory manner: accounts receivable can be sorted by class (departments). The Quickbooks payroll system is used to correctly calculate payroll and maintain payroll records. All income received is recorded on sequentially numbered receipts in permanent receipt books, and income data is entered into the computerized system on a daily basis: the system identifies the source, amount, and purpose of each income transaction and posts the amounts to the appropriate department and line item. All expenditures are made by check (except for small petty cash expenses) and all checks are recorded in the computerized accounting system, where they are posted to the appropriate department and account. The city's chart of accounts has been streamlined so that it is easier to use and to understand. Bank reconciliations are completed on a regular basis and are up to date. The purchasing system includes the use of purchase orders which must be submitted and approved before purchases are made.

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
According to IRS and the Alaska Employment Security Division, the City of Fort Yukon is up to date with IRS and ESC tax reports and payments.

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 current workers compensation insurance policy is in effect through July 1, 2009. A revised job description for sanitation driver was submitted on April 7, 2009: the city currently has adequate job descriptions for all positions.

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 of Fort Yukon owns and operates the water/wastewater utility. The city council is active in making utility policy and in attempting to enforce utility policy. As expressed elsewhere in this report, there is a concern about the ability to enforce the collection policy by disconnecting service in winter months: the city has tried to deal with this issue by implementing more aggressive collection procedures during the summer months. The city council may need to change some specifics of the collection policy to deal with collection issues and concerns. The city is in the process of hiring a permanent city manager and will be considering applications for this position later in April. In the meantime, the city treasurer is serving as acting city manager until the position is filled. The city treasurer (and acting manager) is well organized has been doing a good job. I was impressed with the organization of the city's financial records. A copy of the organizational chart is on file. The city council meets on a regular basis and complies with the Open Meetings Act.

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.
No The utility maintains an inventory control list.
No The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The water plant operator is working toward receiving Level 3 certification. The alternate operator has provisional certificates for wastewater collection and wastewater treatment that expire in 2010. According to the acting manager, the city holds periodic safety meetings (AML safety meetings). The City of Fort Yukon is not on the 2-11-09 SNC list