Quarterly Report: 2012, January - March (Q3), Shishmaref

Iura Leahu  
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 provides water and wastewater (flush and haul), watering point, honey bucket bin rentals and haul and washeteria services, which include public showers, laundromat and water sale services. The main clients are the city residents, school, clinic and other non-profit and for-profit businesses. There is some residential plumbing currently in use. There are approximately 15 homes that utilize an above ground wastewater system. Most residents haul their own water from the washeteria. In the summer, most residents collect rain from rooftops. In the winter, residents simply chop off chunks of ice from one of two ponds located about five miles away from the city, load it into their snow machines, and take it to their homes. The school, local health clinic, city hall and garage use common water and sanitary wastewater systems. The city garage has the heavy equipment, fire truck, the Shishmaref emergency services office and the city lodge. The water is being treated at the treatment plant located in the washeteria. The city uses the pumphouse distribution plant to transport water to the businesses listed above. Both the washeteria and pumphouse have separate water storage tanks. The treated water is delivered to these buildings via water pipes. The generated waste is transported through wastewater pipes to the wastewater lagoon located approximately 300 yards away from the buildings.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
This quarter, On March 20, Nome RUBA staff traveled to the City of Shishmaref at the request of the mayor to provide technical assistance to the newly hired city clerk, review the rates of the public utility services and meet with the city council to discuss the final phase of the codification of local laws. RUBA staff had one meeting with the city council. Three items were presented by RUBA staff at the meeting, specifically, chapter 7-18 of the proposed codified city ordinances, the budgetary analysis of FY12 city budget, and proposed monthly financial statements covering three enterprise funds. The Shishmaref Water Treatment System (SWTS) submitted the required financial, accounting, tax and operation and maintenance documents to the city council, federal and state tax agencies as well as the RUBA program. Nome RUBA staff had frequent contact with city and utility staff this quarter. Nome RUBA staff completed the revision of eighteen chapters of the Shishmaref Code of Ordinances and submitted the revised chapters to the city council for final review and adoption. Nome RUBA staff also participated in an interagency meeting regarding the Shishmaref Relocation Project. The City of Shishmaref received a $150,000 grant through the Alaska Climate Change Impact Mitigation Program. The city hired URS Corporation to guide the city through the Community Site Assessment Feasibility Study, which will provide recommendations for planning needs that are supported by the community. On March 21, at a public hearing, URS proposed to focus on three potentially constructible sites which are the Ear Mountain, Old Pond and Shishmaref itself with a potential to expend to the adjacent island which is about 3 miles away.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff will travel to Shishmaref in May to gather all the necessary information to analyze the collection rate for services provided by the public utilities, assist in the development of balanced enterprise budgets, and present the final copy of the codified code of ordinances. RUBA staff will recommend the city to be nominated for QuickBooks onsite installation.
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
24 of 27
Total Score:
50 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.
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 regular scheduled meeting minutes of June 21, 2011, show that the city council approved the FY12 budget with corrections. The ordinance includes a financial summary of all projected revenues and expenses for the fiscal year, followed by a detailed line-item breakdown of all associated expenses for each city department and public utility service. The utility and city finances are in good standing. The city, however, continues to struggle receiving the necessary utility related revenues to cover the operating expenses. The city council made a decision to continue subsidizing the washeteria by transferring money from other funds, such as the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT). The city bookkeeper and the utility clerk prepare monthly financial reports and submit them to the city council monthly. The bookkeeper continues to provided RUBA staff monthly financial reports. According to the financial reports, the city and its utilities are current in paying all water and wastewater bills. The year-to-date revenues and expenses fluctuate month-to-month, but overall, the revenues are at the equal or above those budgeted and the expenditures are equal or below those budgeted. The city council is active in the budget appropriation process and it has a good grasp of the fiscal reality of the city and utilities. The council makes informed decisions regarding utility finances because it receives and reviews monthly financial reports. According to the monthly city council meetings, the city council makes fiscal adjustments when necessary by amending the original 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 utility clerk is responsible for the cash receipt system and collections. The clerk sends out monthly utility bills to customers and offers a payment plan option to delinquent customers. Since the City of Shishmaref does not have a fully piped water and wastewater system, the city bills customers monthly for honey bucket bin rentals hauling services. This quarter, Nome RUBA staff provided the city clerk and utility clerk with letters of discontinuence of services and referral to collections services letters. However, the city offers customers deferred payment plans before taking legal or collection actions against delinquent customers. The utility clerk keeps track of all payments by recording them in a detailed logbook. The utility clerk passes along the financial information to the city bookkeeper, who uses QuickBooks Pro 2010 to generate monthly financial reports, prepare monthly bank reconciliations and track payroll liabilities. The QuickBooks Pro monthly financial reports are converted to Excel spreadsheet format which makes them much easier for council members to read and understand. The city clerk reported that all purchases are made in accordance with the budget.

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 and the utility use QuickBooks Pro 2010 to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities. The city has no past tax liabilities or liens recorded. On March 28, 2012, the Internal Revenue Service reported that the City of Shishmaref is in compliance with federal employment tax filing and deposit requirements. As of March 27, 2012, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development confirmed that all state tax payments and tax filing requirements are current.

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.
No 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
All city employees are covered by an Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA) workers' compensation insurance policy. The policy is valid until July 1, 2012, and covers work-related accidents and occupational diseases as per Alaska statutory limits for each occurrence. The City of Shishmaref implements a comprehensive personnel management system with the mayor and city council continually reviewing personnel matters. The city and the utility follow the personnel policies in the day-to-day management of personnel. Each employee undergoes a performance evaluation review. The city maintains personnel files for all the city employees. The city is in the process of updating all employees' files to include I-9 forms. The city and the utility have a probationary period for new hires that includes orientation, job-training/oversight and evaluation, which is completed after ninety days of an employee being on the job. The city and the utility provide training opportunities to staff as funds are available. The city clerk and a member of the utility board completed the 32-hour RUBA Organizational Management for Rural Utilities course in November 2011, as well as other RUBA trainings previously.

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 Shishmaref owns and operates the community's sanitation system. The city has a utility board which consists of members of the city council. The board is active in policy making and the city enforces the utility policies as per the code of ordinances. The city clerk and members of the city council reported that the board has monthly utility meetings. To comply with Alaska's Open Meetings Act, the city consistently posts notice of each meeting at least five days in advance in three public places. Each notice indicates the type of meeting to be held, location, date and time. The city council is active in policy-making for the utility, as evidenced in the city meetings minutes reviewed by Nome RUBA staff. The meetings minutes show that the city council is provided with written financial reports, briefings on ongoing utility projects, staffing issues, training requests and concerns of the public. The utility has a certified water operator, who is the manager and is supervised by the city clerk. The council hears monthly oral reports on the operation, finances and management of the utility from the operator. There is also an alternate water operator who works part-time or as needed. The operator has stated to RUBA staff he was proud to hold his job because the utility has provided good clean water to its residents. The city has a current organizational chart posted on the wall of the city clerk's office. Nome RUBA staff assisted in creating the organizational chart. Nome RUBA staff personally observed the city council review monthly financial statements and other utility related reports during the visit in March, 2012. During the same meeting, the city council discussed solutions to the problem of water shortages at the school tank. The city council plays an active role in policy making. The city council asked for more assistance in setting rates.

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 utility has a lead and an alternate water operator. The lead water operator has a Water Treatment 2 certificate which will expire on 12/31/2013. He also holds a Wastewater Collection Provisional (expiration 12/31/2012) and Wastewater Treatment 1 (expiration 12/31/2012). The lead water operator is pursuing CEU's to maintain his certification. The alternate water operator does not have a certificate but he has attended classes, has been actively working towards certification and has a total of approximately five years of experience as a water operator. The utility has a preventive maintenance plan and a safety manual. According to meeting minutes, the utility holds monthly safety meetings by phone. The safety meetings are provided by the Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA). The utility has not suffered any major problems or outages for many years. However, the main pipe transerring water from the main tank to the school tank freezes almost every year during the winter. This quarter, the main pipe froze and the city had to have two employees haul water from the main tank to the school tank 24/7 for many days because the school tank was law on water. The utility might consider buying a special hose (2,200 feet long) this fiscal year to cut expenses when the main pipe freezes. The operator provides oral status reports to the city council and meets all required regulations. The utility is not on the Significant Non-Compliance list. The utility does not maintain an inventory control list and a critical parts list. RUBA staff recommended that the governing body address this problem. RUBA staff advised the governing body to contact the remote maintenance worker or the engineer assigned to the city to ask for assistance in creating an inventory control list.