Quarterly Report: 2007, July - September (Q1), Shishmaref

Leroy Seppilu  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Shishmaref 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Shishmaref operates a central watering point, a water truck delivery service, multiple watering points, and a washeteria. They also provide a honey bucket service. The City Council is the policy making body for the utility. Water is derived from a surface source; it is treated and stored in a new tank. Shishmaref is undergoing major improvements, with the construction of a flush/haul system and household plumbing. Nineteen HUD homes have been completed, and 71 homes remain. The new system provides water delivery, but the unserved homes continue to haul their own water. The city hauls honeybuckets and the new flush tanks. The school, clinic, Friendship Center, City Hall and fire hall are connected to a sewage lagoon. A new landfill is planned for the City; an access road is under construction.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
To date, the city has not passed the FY '07 budget. Nome RUBA staff has been encouraging the bookkeeper to work on the budget and the FY '05 Certified Financial Statement. Once these are completed, along with the Payment-In-Lieu-of Taxes resolution, the city will be eligible to receive over $41,000 in PILT funds. This is desperately needed by the city as it has been experiencing money shortages for the last several years. The city is also eligible to receive $50,000 from the State Municipal Energy Assistance Program. They need to complete the FY '07 Municipal Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) form along with the budget and Certified Financial Statement. There have been several resignations from the Administration and Finance Department. The city clerk submitted her resignation due to lack of funds. The city averages at least $72-80,000 each quarter for payroll expenses, and the IRS has frozen the city's bank account several times over the past couple of years for non-payment of tax liabilities. RUBA staff has been encouraging the city council to cutback on less essential employees. The city was forced to buy fuel oil for the washeteria and other city-owned buildings on a daily basis because it could not afford to purchase fuel in bulk. The city is on a cash only basis with the Shishmaref Native Store because the store and other businesses will not accept the city's checks anymore. The city owed Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AVEC) at least $12,500, but managed to pay the debt before being disconnected. The washeteria is open only three times a week, but despite major cutbacks in hours of operation, the washeteria still generates many expenses.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA anticipates that two trips to the community will be needed to continue the training for the clerks and bookkeeper. RUBA staff will also continue to assist the city in finding ways to reduce the total gross wages each quarter, so that the city can 'afford' to meet payroll and deposit taxes on time. RUBA staff will assist in finding a way to pay off the past due electric bill, and ordering fuel for next winter to avoid purchasing fuel on an as-needed basis. RUBA will offer assistance to the Remote Maintenance Worker to get the city off the SNC list, and will attempt to begin an inventory list, so that the city can sell unneeded parts and equipment and use the money to pay off debts.
Essential Indicators:
15 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
13 of 27
Total Score:
28 of 54


Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.
No The utility has adopted a balanced realistic budget.
Yes Monthly financial reports are prepared and submitted to the policy making board.
No The utility is current in paying all water/wastewater electric bills.
No The utility has on hand a year's adequate fuel supply or it has a financial plan to purchase an adequate supply.
No 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.
No YTD revenues are at a level equal to or above those budgeted.
No YTD expenditures are at a level equal to or below those budgeted.
No A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
Customers must pay in advance before the septic tanks are drained or water is delivered to the homes. Since these services must be paid in advance, the city has a 100% collection rate. The washeteria still loses money due to high electricity and fuel consumption. The City Council has cut where it can to lower expenses, but it still loses money.

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.
No 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.
No 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 continues to have cash-flow problems. In several instances, the city was as much as 75% short of meeting payroll. RUBA staff recommended to the mayor and the City Council to reduce spending so that essential employees and services can be maintained. RUBA also explained that state and federal laws require employers to pay its employees on designated paydays. There have been some cutbacks made, but major ones are still needed.

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.
No The utility is current on making tax deposits.
No 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 has managed to reduce the past due tax liabilities owed to IRS and Employment Security Div., but when new paydays come around, at times the debt increases. However, the bookkeeper consistently tries to keep the IRS debt down by paying whatever she can.

Personnel System

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
No 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.
Yes The utility has a probationary period for new hires that includes orientation, job training/oversight, and evaluations.
No The utility provides training opportunities to staff as needed and available.
Personnel System Comments
The city still does not have worker's compensation insurance because it cannot afford it. After the city clerk resigned, a new city clerk was hired who proposed the idea of hiring a city manager that would make tough decisions and get the city back into financial shape. The City Council took no action, and that clerk has also resigned.

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.
No 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
Despite advance planning, the utility clerk was not available when RUBA staff came to town to provide training for the bookkeeper, city clerk and utility clerk. One of the water treatment plant operators is certified at the Water Treatment 2 level, and the other one is Operator in Training (OIT) certified. The OIT certified operator was recently releaved of his duties for performance reasons, and the council has not yet hired a replacement.

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
No 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.
No The operator provides status reports to the manager on a routine basis.
Yes The utility has completed and distributed its "Consumer Confidence Report".
No 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 water treatment plant is on the SNC list. The operator does not make monthly O and M reports to the the supervisor or to the city council. Reports are made on 'as needed' basis. The operator does not hold safety meetings. We also do not have an updated safety manual. RUBA staff will work with the city clerk, city council ant the utility operator to make an inventory control list. RUBA staff had recommended to the city council to have the operator make an inventory list so that the unused and unneeded parts and equipment can be sold to raise some money to pay off debts to vendors. The bookkeeper said it was not completed yet. She was having problems with one of the operators and the operator was released of his duties.