Quarterly Report: 2011, October - December (Q2), Hoonah

Glen Hamburg  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
First Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Hoonah 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Hoonah is a Tlingit community located on the northeast shore of Chichagof Island, 40 air miles west of Juneau. Water for the community is derived from Gartina, Shotter, Dalton, and Spud Creeks. The water is then treated and piped to all homes and facilities. 98% of these homes are fully plumbed. The city processes sewage at its sewage treatment plant and provides garbage collection services twice weekly. The community's electrical service, however, is provided by Inside Passage Electric Cooperative (IPEC). 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Juneau RUBA staff traveled to Hoonah on August 17-18 to provide training for the new city clerk. Topics covered include Alaska's Open Meetings Act, parliamentary procedure, and the Hoonah City Code with attention to the Utility chapter and biling and collection procedures. Hoonah's municipal elections process was also reviewed with particular attention paid to absentee voting procedures, ballot formatting, and records retention. RUBA staff will continue to assist the city clerk to meet elections deadlines and to develop a consistent records retention process. RUBA staff also traveled to Hoonah from December 5 to 7, 2010 to conduct a two-day newly-elected officials training for the Hoonah City Council, with members of the harbor board and city staff also in attendance. The training covered the roles and responsibilities of members of the city council and provided strategies for how council members could serve purposefully, appropriately, and successfully. Other topics covered by the training include Title 29, the Hoonah Municipal Code, municipal acts, budgeting, parliamentary procedure, conflict of interest, and Alaska's Open Meetings Act. The city council serves as the utility board. Throughout the quarter, RUBA staff helped the city to resolve elections and payroll tax issues. Additionally, RUBA staff began helping the city to develop an employee handbook to take the place of the city's current personnel policy (a RUBA management sustainable indicator) provided in the Hoonah Municipal Code. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
In the coming quarter, RUBA staff and the city clerk hope to address inconsistencies and typos in the utility and elections chapters of the Hoonah Municipal Code. RUBA staff will continue to offer assistance as needed or requested to improve Hoonah's utility management practices.
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
25 of 27
Total Score:
51 of 53


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.
No 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 Hoonah's fiscal year follows the calendar year January 1 to December 31. On February 9, 2010, the Hoonah City Council adopted a detailed, balanced, and realistic FY10 budget. The budget includes general government operation, community services departments, and enterprise funds. Financial updates are given verbally to the council at monthly meetings by the mayor, who also serves as the city's utility manager. Financial reports, including a profit and loss statement, balance sheet, and budget vs. actual profit and loss are available to all council members; however, they are not currently included in the council meeting packets provided at the monthly meetings. The council relies on the mayor to oversee the finances of the city and for the execution of the budget. The council nonetheless provides oversight by performing quarterly budget reviews. To meet the criteria for this essential indicator and as an improvement to the current practice, the mayor will begin providing financial reports to council members on a monthly basis. The city purchases its power from the Inside Passage Electric Cooperative (IPEC) and is current on all electricity bills through December 2010. Electricity accounts for approximately 13% of the overall costs associated with operating the water and wastewater utilities in Hoonah. The community has a bulk fuel facility owned by Hoonah Trading Company which maintains propane, gasoline, and diesel storage tanks sufficient to meet the community's needs. Hoonah Trading receives its fuel shipments from Delta Western about every two to three weeks. The city has a 'keep full' contract with Hoonah Trading with adequate funds budgeted for fuel purchases. Hoonah's utilities do not currently receive revenues from user fees sufficient to cover operating expenses or repair and replacement costs. In recent years, utility revenue projections exceeded expenditures and the city did not need to subsidize the utility with interfund transfers from the general fund. In the FY10 budget, however, the city has provided for interfund transfers totaling $138,346 to balance the water, sewer, and garbage collection budgets. The City provides water, wastewater, and solid waste utility services to the local population for the following combined fees (including sales tax): -Regular residential: $90.56 per month -Senior citizen residential: $55.04 per month -Commercial: $125.35 per month There is also a metered rate structure for large volume users which include Hoonah City Schools, Hoonah Cold Storage, and Point Sophia.

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.
No 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 of Hoonah has adopted and actively follows a collections policy as detailed in Title 13 of the Hoonah Municipal Code. The City actively pursues delinquent utility accounts. The collection policy establishes a $5.00 late fee and a simple interest charge of 1 percent per month for all unpaid accounts 20 days or more in arrears. This interest charge exceeds the Alaska statutory limit of 10.5 percent per year. For those accounts that continue to be unpaid, the city terminates utility service 10 days after giving written notice and an opportunity for a public hearing. When service is terminated, a $30.00 disconnection fee and a $30.00 reconnect fee are assessed. Restoration of service after discontinuance for nonpayment of bills is made only after payment of current and past due charges and payment of reconnect fees have been made. In addition, customers having their service reconnected after discontinuance are required to provide a $100.00 deposit on top of the initial water and sewer deposit. The city bills customers on a monthly basis for services received during the preceding month. Payments are due immediately upon receipt of the monthly statement. If payments are not received by the last business day of the month, the entire unpaid balance is considered delinquent. Utility bills do not list charges for water, wastewater, and solid waste services separately, but rather combines each service's cost into one monthly utility rate. This practice is inconsistent with Hoonah Municipal Code 13.04.030, which requires each utility service to be listed separately. Caselle accounting software is used in Hoonah's accounting system. The Caselle software was specifically designed for municipal and utility applications and incorporates several integrated and expandable modules for general fund accounting, utility billing and control, and payroll. The accounts payable module issues checks, manages vendor information and interfaces with requisitions, purchase orders, and general ledger modules to enable full encumbrance accounting. Caselle's accounts receivable module maintains customer account and payment information. It also documents customer payments and reports past due accounts. Hoonah's Caselle software meets payroll reporting requirements for Alaska and provides annual IRS Circular E updates. Additional accounting procedures include the accounting technician completing monthly bank reconciliations and reports. A purchase order system is used for all purchases, though city staff report that this system does not always compare proposed purchases to budgeted amounts.

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 of Hoonah uses Caselle accounting software to calculate, track, and report its payroll liabilities. Hoonah is current in its tax payments to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development and to the IRS.

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 city currently carries workers' compensation insurance through AMLJIA. That policy covers work-related accidents and occupational diseases up to the Alaska statutory limit for each occurrence. A copy of the workers' compensation insurance policy is posted in accordance with state statute at the city hall, the water treatment plant, and the public works shop The City of Hoonah has a well established and implemented personnel management system including an adopted personnel policy handbook. Every employee is required to submit a signed statement that they have read and understand this handbook. The city's written hiring procedure is detailed in Chapter 3.48 of the municipal code. Job descriptions are up to date and the personnel files are well organized with all the necessary employee documents. Further, the city provides annual evaluations for all employees and employees are offered ample professional training opportunities.

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
Hoonah residents are by and large aware that the city owns and operates the water, wastewater, and solid waste utilities. The city council is active in enforcing the utility policies adopted in Chapter 13 of the HMC. The mayor and city administrative staff are trained in the organizational and fiscal management of the utility as well. The utility operators have been certified at the appropriate levels to operate the city's level-2 water treatment and level-1 water distribution, wastewater collection, and wastewater treatment facilities. However, RUBA staff have been unable to determine whether the expired wastewater collection and water distribution certificates for one of the operators have been renewed for 2010.

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
Hoonah's water and wastewater utility staff consists of four utility operators as well as a public works supervisor who is responsible for overall utility operations. Three of the operators are certified with the following endorsements: The utility operator Ronny Roberts: Wastewater Collection 2 Exp. 12/31/11 Wastewater Treatment 2 Exp. 12/31/11 Water Distribution 2 Exp. 12/31/11 Water Treatment 2 Exp. 12/31/11 The utility operator Billy Miller: Wastewater Collection 1 Exp. 12/31/11 Wastewater Treatment 1 Exp. 12/31/11 Water Treatment 1 Exp. 12/31/11 Water Distribution 1 Exp. 12/31/11 The utility operator Ryan Neal: Water Distribution Provisional Exp. 12/31/11 The operators maintain a preventive maintenance plan for the sanitation facilities contained within the utility operations manual. The lead water operator and public works supervisor communicate with each other in-person on a daily basis. The lead operator also maintains a written log of maintenance activities and concerns. The public works supervisor prepares monthly written reports and conducts facilities 'spot checks' to verify that maintenance items are being completed. The public works supervisor has reported to RUBA staff that the utility retains a safety manual and holds safety meetings as part of the AMLJIA risk management program. The public works supervisor has also reported that the water utility is operating at the proposed level of service. Neither the water nor wastewater utility has suffered any major problems or outages due to management issues. The water utility completes and distributes its Community Confidence Report (CCR) and is not on the EPA's Significant Non-Compliance List. On top of these safety measures, the water operators also maintain an adequate level of tools, supplies, and spare parts and manage the stock through an inventory control list and a critical spare parts list.