Quarterly Report: 2007, January - March (Q3), Gambell

Josephine Bahnke  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Gambell 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water is derived from a shallow aquifer at the base of Sivuokuk Mountain, and is treated and stored in three storage tanks. 121 homes and 13 public and commercial buildings including the school and washeteria are now connected to the piped water and sewer system. Forty three homes in the original townsite still haul water and honeybuckets. A feasibility study is complete. A new water source and additional water storage tanks are needed to ensure no shortages will occur. Significant infrastructure growth is proposed over the next 5 years. The first phase of improvements upgraded the existing infrastructure, including water treatment, lift station upgrades, and a 2.2 million gallon water storage tank. The second phase will be to develop a well field 2 miles outside of town at the south end of Troutman Lake, and construct a summer only raw water transmission line. The third phase will be water and sewer service to Old Town (approximately 43 service connections). Ultimately, there will be 174 residential services.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff continues to participate with a group of Technical Assistance Providers consisting of various State and Federal agencies seeking to assist the Gambell Water System meet regulatory requirements and RUBA essential capacity indicators. This quarter, the new Utility Clerk, Trudy Apatiki, successfully completed RUBA's 32-hour Financial Management workshop. At the advice of RUBA, proposed budget amendments were adopted by the City on February 27, 2007. In mid-February, sewer system emergency work was performed due to a blockage at the lift station with the assistance of Remote Maintenance Workers from Nome and Anchorage. During the last week of March, Operator, Jan Campbell, completed Boiler Maintenance and Troubleshooting training in Nome. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff will travel to Gambell this quarter to provide on-site assistance to utility staff with monthly financial reports and verify financial status. To the extent possible, RUBA staff will continue participation with the Technical Assistance Providers Group via teleconference. Staff from Village Safe Water, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Norton Sound Health Corporation will begin the pilot study for the new water treatment plant.
Essential Indicators:
27 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
20 of 27
Total Score:
47 of 54


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
No 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 Council adopted FY 07 budget amendments in January 2007. Monthly financial reports are being prepared by the new Utility Clerk and submitted to the Utility Board. RUBA staff has plans to work with the Utility Clerk on improving these reports. Despite the Council implementing the rate increases for residents, commercial, and metered customers last quarter, the Utility is still doing it's best to scrape by. This is partially due to unexpected maintenance costs of the sewer system this quarter. Nome RUBA and the new Utility Clerk have discussed alternative revenue sources for the City. One idea would be to start a honeybucket haul service and charge customers a pick-up and landfill fee.

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 has an adopted collection policy, and follows it consistently. The utility and City clerk use QuickBooks Pro for payroll, accounts receivable, and billing. A NEBS cash receipt system is utilized for accounts receivable and Economic Register for tracking expenditures.

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
Gambell Water and Sewer account is in good standing with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) this quarter. Last quarter the City of Gambell was placed on a suspended installment agreement for 1st and 2nd quarter 2006. This was due to the City Clerk falling behind on regular deposits and because the City agreed to make unaffordable monthly installment payments. This quarter, the City submitted a revised request for payment plan with an updated financial statement to the IRS. The request states what the City will be able to pay on the 15th of each month for balance due. On April 25, 2007, Nome RUBA staff received a letter from the IRS to the City of Gambell which states that the signed repayment agreement has been forwarded to Fairbanks Revenue Officer, Janice Stowell. In the letter, Janice states that while the repayment plan is in transit to the Collections office but it won't be 'officially assigned' until the first of May 2007. However, a code has been inputted into the IRS computer system indicating that a payment plan has been requested and this will stop attempts to levy Gambell's bank accounts. In the meantime, Gambell is making voluntary payments to apply towards their balance and staying current with federal tax deposits.

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.
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.
No 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
Gambell Water and Sewer is insured by the Alaska Municipal League-Joint Insurance Association (AML-JIA) for fiscal year 2007 and are in good standing. The Common Council was able to pay a bulk of the bill with their Municipal Energy Assistance grant.

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 Gambell is the owner of the utility. Decision making authority and enforcement of utility policy has alternated from the Utility Board to the City Council. At this time, the Mayor provides supervision to all City and Utility staff.

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.
No 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".
No 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
Village Safe Water (VSW), through contract with CRW Engineers, is moving ahead with a $340,000 water treatment upgrade and design for a new $3.4 million water tank.