Quarterly Report: 2012, April - June (Q4), Stebbins

Iura Leahu  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Stebbins 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Residents currently haul water and deposit honeybucket waste in bins. During the summer, water is derived from Big Clear Creek and is treated and stored in 1,000,000-gallon and 500,000-gallon steel water storage tanks. There is a central watering point at the washeteria, distributed from the tanks via plastic pipelines. A reservoir is planned in order to alleviate winter water shortages. The Alaska Department of Enviromental Conservation (ADEC) has approved the landfill for use, though it is not permitted. Refuse is collected by the city from central bins. Electricity is provided by Alaska Village Electric Cooperative. Stebbins has been working with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC), Kawerak, Inc. and the Division of Environmental Health and Engineering to develop a community development plan addressing possible solutions to supplying year-round piped potable water and wastewater disposal to the community of Stebbins and a recommendation for the funding of those solutions. According to the Stebbins Community Development Plan released in April 2010, the city council accepted a four-phased water and wastewater construction plan.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On May 2, 2012 Nome RUBA staff traveled to the City of Stebbins at the invitation of the city administrator to assist in the preparation of the FY13 public utilities and city budgets. RUBA staff worked with the city administrator in estimating revenues and expenditures for the next fiscal year, including funds not spent from the current fiscal year. Microsoft Excel budget forms were used to work on the budget. The focus was to prepare a balanced and realistic budget based on analysis of past budgets, monthly financial reports, and proposed new wage increases. RUBA staff and the city administrator were not able to finish the budget due to time constraints. RUBA staff assisted the city administrator to work on finalizing the budget via phone and email. Sufficient instructions were provided to the city administrator to allow the administrator to successfully complete preparation of the budget by the deadline. RUBA staff learned that the water and wastewater project engineer was going to meet with members of the city council, members of the Stebbins Community Association, and Stebbins Native Corporation on July 9, 2012. The engineer will present this year's construction plans to the community. Frustrations run high within the community regarding this project. For over 20 years, the community has been trying to secure municipal water and wastewater services with very little success. The community of Stebbins, according to Stebbins Comprehensive Plan, March 2012, 'will work with any and all agencies and design firms that can offer solutions to achieve this important goal.'  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff plans to travel to the City of Stebbins this coming quarter to work with city staff and the city council in a complete revision of the Codified Ordinances of Stebbins.
Essential Indicators:
24 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
20 of 27
Total Score:
44 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.
No YTD expenditures are at a level equal to or below those budgeted.
No A monthly manager's report is prepared.
Yes Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The City of Stebbins adopted the FY13 budget on May 27, 2012. A copy of the approved budget was submitted to the Division of Community and Regional Affairs. The Stebbins Water Treatment System (SWTS) FY13 budget is included in the overall city budget. As a whole the city budget is balanced. However, the SWTS budget is not balanced. The projected revenues of the system are $59,000 and the projected expenditures are $105,707, leaving a $46,707 deficit. The city staff stated that the city council uses the Norton Sound Economic Development Community Benefit Sharing funds and State of Alaska Community Revenue Sharing grant payments to subsidize SWTS. The city clerk prepares and submits monthly financial reports comparing actual year-to-date revenues and expenditures to the budget to the city council on a regular basis. RUBA staff received copies of the monthly financial reports this quarter. RUBA staff has seen the most recent invoices from the electric utility, and SWTS is current paying the electric bills. Stebbins is part of the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation bulk fuel purchase program. The city council ordered 25,000 gallons of heating fuel for the upcoming year and part of it is used to heat SWTS. The FY13 indicates that SWTS budgeted $9,228 for heating fuel. Crowley delivers fuel via barge twice a year, typically in June and early September. Crowley delivered 10,000 gallons of fuel in June 2012.

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.
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 City of Stebbins does not have an ordinance delineating the collection policy. However, there is a waste disposal ordinance which outlines in general terms the collection policy regarding the honey bucket services which needs to be amended because parts of it are out-of-date and do not apply. RUBA staff proposed the city council adopt a comprehensive ordinance outlining the policy regarding collections. The city council has accepted the ordinance but has not yet adopted it. However, the current ordinance indicates that 'bills will be sent to customers by the tenth of the month for the current month and are due by the tenth of the following month.' The same section of the ordinance writes that 'any customer who is three months or more overdue in payment is encouraged to sign an agreement with the city to bring the account up-to-date within six months from the date it became overdue.' The section continues stating that 'any customer who refuses to make such agreement or fails to abide by it is subject to action in Small Claims Court, at the option of the city.' RUBA staff proposed several steps to address the problem of collection for honey bucket hauling services. City and utility staff have followed some of the RUBA staff recommendations. The city council made a decision to forgive all past due accounts to all honey bucket customers as of July 1, 2012. The utility only recently began to bill customers on a regular basis. The utility uses QuickBooks to track customers and report past due accounts and amounts. A QuickBooks Pro 2010 accounts payable is in place. Some errors were detected in calculating payroll taxes, however, the utility calculates and keeps records of the payroll payments. A cash receipt system is in place. According to city staff, the city writes a receipt for any income received and a copy of every receipt is kept in a sequentially numbered permanent receipt book. The QuickBooks chart of accounts is in need of revision.

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.
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 utility staff use QuickBooks to calculate, track and report payroll tax liabilities. As of July 2, 2012, the Internal Revenue Service's Taxpayer Advocacy Office reported that Stebbins and its public utility services are in compliance with federal tax filing requirements. However, the city owes a small amount in taxes. The city administrator reported that a check was sent to IRS. No recorded notice of federal tax lien against the city and its utilities has been located. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development confirmed that all state tax payments are current as of July 2, 2012.

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 of Stebbins has a workers compensation insurance policy with the Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA) valid through June 30, 2013. This is a comprehensive insurance which covers work-related accidents and occupational diseases as per Alaska Statutes. Proof of coverage is posted in the city office. The city personnel policies apply to all employees of the city. The city office has adequate written job descriptions for all city positions. The utility uses a written personnel evaluation process outlined in the Code of Ordinances. The hiring process is also described. Every city employee has a well-organized personnel file, which contains such documents as employee's original job application, reports on employee's work performance, and disciplinary actions. However, RUBA staff found that not all employees have I-9 forms in their personnel files. The utility provides orientation, job-training, oversight, and performance evaluation. The utility also provides for outside training opportunities. The city administrator attended a Financial Management for Rural Utilities training in Nome in April 2011 and the city clerk attended a Organizational Management for Rural Utilities course in Nome in November 2011.

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
According to Chapter 30, Section 3 of the Stebbins Code of Ordinances all existing and proposed water tanks, piping systems and facilities are owned by the City of Stebbins. The code states that 'the City Council of Stebbins shall oversee operation of this department,' and 'the council shall adopt rules, regulations, times, and days of uses of water department facilities.' However, the code of ordinances does not contain the rules and regulations regarding the management and operation of the Stebbins Water Treatment System. The city code was last codified on May 21, 1984. RUBA staff found an ordinance dated March 11, 2000, which briefly discussed on two pages the services provided, fees for services, customer base, billing and collections. This quarter, the city council has been involved in the policy making of the water treatment plant, honey bucket, and washeteria operated by the city. The regular meeting minutes of April and May indicated that the city council discussed issues related to utility services. The city council reviewed the operator's monthly reports and monthly financial statements showing year-to-date financial standing of the public utilities in the city. According to the city administrator, the city council will also review and adopt the proposed waste disposal ordinance provided by RUBA staff. The utility does not have a utility bookkeeper, but the city administrator and city clerk share the accounting and financial record keeping responsibilities regarding all public utility services. The city administrator acts as the general manager of all city departments. The utility has an adequately trained operator.

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.
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
Stebbins Water Treatment System (SWTS) has a peak day design capacity of 10,000 - 50,000 gallons per day. The water supply source is derived from a surface water supply, Clear Lake, located about four miles from the city limits. The system uses a single unit bag filter as well as granular media to filter the raw water. The system uses hypochlorite to disinfect the water and then stores it in a water storage tank. The water treatment plant employs a primary water treatment operator. The operator's Water Treatment 1 certificate has expired. The utility has a preventive maintenance plan at the city office, but there was no copy of it at the facility. The water operator showed a water usage form which listed the housing units, and the school, and clinic which all use piped water service connections. The school and the clinic have an arctic box. The reports did not appear to be produced on a monthly basis. The operator provides both verbal and written status reports to the city administrator on a routine basis. The water treatment plant has completed and distributed its Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). As of April 2012, the utility is not listed on the most current Significant Non-Complier List. Although the water operator indicated that the city administrator and city council allocate funds when the utility needs critical spare parts, the utility does not maintain an inventory control list or a critical spare parts list.