Quarterly Report: 2013, July - September (Q1), Saint George

Saint George 
Michele Aranguiz  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of St. George 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The piped water and wastewater system was constructed by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) during the 1950s. Four wells provide water for the community and the harbor with 250,000 gallons of water storage. Sixty residences are connected to the system and are plumbed. The city provides refuse collection services. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
The most recent on-site RUBA assessment of St. George took place in September 2011. St. George signed a RUBA agreement in January 2012, in order to address deficient indicators. Since the 2011 assessment, St. George has not provided any requested financial documentation - including a CY12 budget, monthly financial reports, or city council meeting minutes. This lack of documentation disallows the RUBA program's capacity to accurately assess current financial management practices in the community, as well as constraining our ability to support sustainable community management. Relevant indicators have been shifted to 'nos' to reflect a lack of meaningful and timely data. An on-site visit was not scheduled this quarter, both because of the lack of access to financial record-keeping systems and to administrative staff. The mayor of St. George reports that the community has begun working with a new accounting firm - Aleut Accounting. It is hoped that this shift will enable the community to develop accurate and consistant financial recording and reporting practices. Fuel issues have loomed large in St. George this quarter. Delta Western and Tanaq corporation have operated a joint venture to provide fuel to the community for the last 20 years; this partnership formally dissolved in September, leaving the community without a fuel distribution system. Substantial indebtedness to the Bridge Fuel Loan program managed by DCRA prohibits additional emergency lending for fuel purchase. The community is attempting to broker a deal with the Aleution Pribilof Island Community Development Association to purchase enough fuel to sustain St. George through the winter. On-going communication with the RUBA program this quarter has centered on the impact of this impending fuel crisis on both the water/wastewater utility and the community as a whole.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will continue to be available to provide any assistance requested to enable St. George to satisfy essential and sustainable indicators.
Essential Indicators:
9 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
11 of 27
Total Score:
20 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.
No 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
Requested financial documentation has not been received since September 2011. The city's operating budget is not balanced. Decisions to balance the budget require open discussion and debate, empowering the city council and the community with ongoing, scheduled city council meetings and work-groups. The city council has not been receiving regular updated financial reports.

Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
No An accounts payable system is in place.
No The payroll system correctly calculates payroll and keeps records.
No A cash receipt system is in place that records incoming money and how it was spent.
No The utility has a cash disbursement system that records how money was spent.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
No A chart of accounts is used that identifies categories in a reasonable, usable manner.
No 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
As this quarter's financial statements have not been recieved from the new accounting firm, RUBA cannot attest to the community's accounting systems. Until RUBA has direct contact with the current accountant, it is unknown what financial systems are in place and how they are functioning. The payroll, accounts payable, accounts receiveable, and cash receipt systems were in place during the September 2011 assessment. The city council adopted a utility ordinance that includes a collections policy on September 24, 2008. The city uses a pay-as-you-go system for water, electricity and waste costs for residential customers, thus eliminating collections issues for residential customers. However, St. George has a collections policy in place for commercial customers which has not been consistently enforced; some commercial customers are in arrears. Utility rates have not been adequately raised to compensate for increased fuel costs. This issue needs to go before the city council, and devoting a portion of each council meeting to utility issues (structural, financial, and visionary) is an essential practice. Much of the grant funding requested by or expected by St. George is related to utility projects. The water distribution infrastructure needs attention; sections of the waste distribution system are aging and failing. Alternative energy projects (windmills) are also planned by the community with grant monies in place. The Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) intends switching capacity and generator integration with the windmills and the city is poised to complete substantial infrastructure improvements.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility has a system to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities.
No 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
There are no recorded liens for the City of St. George. St. George currently has Federal tax liabilities, and will need to include a repayment schedule into any budget calculations for the upcoming year. Tax clearance from the Alaska Department of Labor (received 09/24/2012) has been granted through June 30, 2012. As with other aspects of St. George city management, tax liability needs to be openly reported in regular city council meetings.

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.
No 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
The City of St. George has workers compensation with Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association(AMLJIA) through June 2013, and is currently up to date with their payments. There is not an active practice of regular employee evaluation and feedback. During the on-site assessment, RUBA staff encouraged the development of once yearly formal employee evaluation, to include both written and verbal feedback. As a result of a small labor pool and geographic isolation, many city and utility positions on St. George are held by employees without job-specific training or experience. St. George offers encouragement and financial support for continued training of employees.

Organizational Management

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The entity that owns the utility is known; the entity that will operate the utility is set.
No The policy making body is active in policy making of the utility.
No 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.
No The policy making body meets as required.
Yes The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
A utility ordinance was adopted by the city council on September 24, 2008. The city council does not meet monthly as required by the city's code of ordinances and State Statutes Title 29. This lack of regular city council meetings is a core issue for St. George. This creates a situation in which critical issues which impact the community are not reaching the council for discussion and shared decision making. The Saint George city council is currently not adequately involved in the budgetary or financial affairs of the city.

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.
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.
No 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
The new water operator attended training last quarter and received his Water Distribution - Provisional certification, expiring 12/31/2014. The utility does not have a safety manual nor do they hold safety meetings. A preventative maintenance plan was adopted by the St. George City Council on June 19, 2009, but is not adequately funded or consulted. St. George is listed on the July 2012 SNC list. The issue is primarily a lack of water sampling; for some time, St. George has not participated in a testing program. The SNC report specifies: 'System failed to sample/renew waiver for SOCs and sample for Lead and Copper.' The new water operator hopes to restore a regular testing schedule and return to regulatory compliance. The report notes: 'Arctic pipe froze and broke during March 2012, emptying the storage tank and causing pressure loss. System remains on Boil Water Notice during repairs and replacement of broken lines.' The water utility operator completed a Consumer Confidence Report, working with the Remote Maintenence Worker. During RUBA staff's June 2012 on-site visit, he completed an inventory and critical spare parts list.