Quarterly Report: 2011, April - June (Q4), Kake

Glen Hamburg  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
First Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Kake 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Kake is located on the northwest coast of Kupreanof Island along Keku Strait, 38 air miles northwest of Petersburg and 95 air miles southwest of Juneau. The city operates a Class 2 water treatment, Class 1 water distribution, and a Class 1 wastewater collection system. System classifications are determined by the State of Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Water based on the type of components found in a treatment plant and the number of connections served by water distribution and wastewater collection systems. In addition to these services, the city provides refuse collection, recycling, and hazardous waste disposal. The Inside Passage Electric Cooperative (IPEC), an independent nonprofit corporation, provides electrical services to the city with three diesel-fueled generators.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
This quarter, RUBA staff continued to provide the City of Kake with advice and assistance in municipal government processes during staff turnover. RUBA staff helped to clarify meetings requirements and council seat appointment procedures, in addition to providing general information to the newly-hired city manager. RUBA staff spent four days in Kake this quarter conducting an updated RUBA assessment, working with the city to develop a new utility bill collections policy, assiting in the adoption of the FY12 budget, and providing elections training and assistance to the city clerk. The city also made progress in its effort to appropriately codify its ordinances and adopt an AMLJIA-reviewed personnel policy. Finally, RUBA staff worked to register the city's bookkeeper at both the Personnel Management and Financial Management RUBA courses to be held this summer. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
In the coming quarter, RUBA staff will work with the city to have an updated utility bill collections policy and personnel policy adopted by reference in the Kake Code of Ordinances. RUBA staff will also provide personnel and financial management training to the city's bookkeeper at two UTM courses, continue to codify the city's ordinances, and work with the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) to have the city receive Power Cost Equalization (PCE) credits applied to its water treatment and city shop electricity accounts. Finally, RUBA staff will assist the city clerk in preparing all necessary elections materials to ensure that a governing body for the utility is appointed by city voters according to the city code and state statute.
Essential Indicators:
24 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
18 of 27
Total Score:
42 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
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 City of Kake adopted its FY11 budget on July 30, 2010 and its FY12 budget on June 21, 2011 by non-code ordinance. The city plans to collect approximately 25% less in sanitation service revenue in FY12 than in FY11, a projection that realistically considers the reduction in the city's utility bill collection rate since January of 2011. The FY12 budget appropriately separates sanitation service finances into a 'Water, Wastewater, and Garbage Removal Enterprise Fund.' This fund budget includes detailed line items for all the associated costs of utility operations in Kake including chemicals, water testing, electricity, and insurance, as well as the salaries, taxes, and workers' compensation insurance coverage for the utility operators. While projected revenues from user fees are insufficient to cover all these expenses, the budget clearly indicates a subsidy of $62,525 (nearly 30% of the utility budget) transferred from the general fund to balance. Repair and replacement (R and R) costs are not budget for, though the city manager has proposed the installation of a for-profit shower and laundry facility at the community hall, the revenues of which will be dedicated to an R and R reserve fund for the utility. The FY12 budget shows that $10,325 has been allocated for heating and vehicle fuel, representing a projected 10% increase in fuel costs from the previous fiscal year. The fuel is purchased as needed from Kake Tribal Fuel, who receives fuel shipments about once a month and stores it in four 20,000-gallon tanks and eight 10,000-gallon tanks. A review of the city's monthly payments to the Inside Passage Electrical Cooperative (IPEC) shows that the city is current in paying its water/wastewater electric bills. IPEC statements for the water treatment plant and the city shop do not list a Power Cost Equalization (PCE) credit which, if applied, could save the city significant funds in its monthly electrical bill payments. The city council adopted an FY11 budget amendment ordinance in August 2010 in order to adjust outside funding and building rental revenue projections. No other budget amendment was needed during FY11, though city officials will consider them in coming fiscal year as necessary. Council members receive reports of utility finances at monthly meetings in order to monitor these finances. The reports include a balance sheet and budget versus actual profit and loss statement, in addition to a verbal utility managers report. Despite the city's recent utility bill collection challenges (discussed in the 'Accounting Systems' section), the city's June 2011 financial reports indicated that actual utility revenues had exceeded year-to-date budget projections by more than $4,000. This surplus comes largely from the collection of customers' back payments at the end of the 2010 calendar year.

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
On January 1, 2011, the City of Kake transferred its utility billing responsibilities to the Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative (ARUC)'s Billing Assistance program. Since then, ARUC has been in charge of billing all Kake utility customers and collecting payment on behalf of the city. The Billing Assistance program costs the City of Kake $300 each month, though ARUC does not assist with collection efforts or assume responsibility for any late or unpaid bills; that liability remains with the city. City officials and staff report that they may have misunderstood the initial agreement with ARUC, believing that the Billing Assistance program would include assistance with collections. The city also asserts that utility customers do not always receive their bills and that customers have trouble reaching ARUC representatives to pay by phone. City officials believe that these issues could be contributing to a drop in the utility bill collection rate. Indeed, in the last months of 2010, Kake saw a collection rate of approximately 90%. The city's bookkeeper reports that the collection rate average has fallen below 50% since ARUC took over utility billing. While troubles with the Billing Assistance program may be adding to the city's collection challenges, there is no formal collections policy in place in Kake. A utility bill payment policy is already included in Title 54 of the Kake Code of Ordinances, but is not enforced. Because the city lacks necessary curb stops to shut off all delinquent customers, the disconnection provisions of the policy may be impossible to enforce. The city is therefore working to draft an updated utility bill payment policy to replace the outdated version. The new policy may include repayment agreement procedures, the authority to refer delinquent customers to a collections agency, and the ability for customers to voluntarily assign their Permanent Fund Dividends to utility balances. The city manager stated at a June 21 council meeting that an updated payment policy draft could be available for council consideration in July. ARUC utility bills include the customer's name and address, a description of the utility services provided, the amount due, the due date, and past due balances. While these statements break down the individual cost of water, sewer, and garbage services, customers cannot pay for each service separately. ARUC accepts payment by personal check or by Visa, Mastercard, or Discover credit cards over the phone. The city's bookkeeper utilizes QuickBooks software to manage the accounts payable and payroll processes. The bookkeeper is also in charge of monthly bank reconciliations and maintains the purchasing system. In that system, purchases are requested using a formal purchase order form and then reviewed for funding availability before receiving approval by the city manager. Though the general appropriateness of each purchase is considered, no department or account codes are used. Rather, it is up to the bookkeeper to determine which account to charge from a detailed chart of accounts. The chart of accounts includes easily-identifiable account names and a description of that account's type. After a purchase has been made, the vendor's invoice is matched to the approved purchase order form. Cash disbursements are recorded in a check register that notes the date, purpose, and amount.

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 of Kake uses QuickBooks accounting software to accurately calculate, track, and report its payroll tax liabilities. The IRS's Taxpayer Advocacy Office confirmed on June 27 that Kake is current in its federal tax reports and filings. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development confirmed on June 15 that all state tax payments are current as well. There are no past tax liabilities or recorded liens.

Personnel System

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has a posted workers compensation insurance policy in effect.
Sustainable Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
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
The City of Kake's current workers' compensation insurance policy with the Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA) is valid through June 30, 2012. Proof of coverage is posted in all areas of employment, including the main bulletin board at City Hall. The Kake Code of Ordinances contains a personnel title outlining the job descriptions, authorities, and duties of all municipal employees. This title also provides for a hiring process, lists city holidays, and establishes sick and annual leave accrual rates. The city does not actively follow this personnel policy, however, and contradictory personnel ordinances have been passed in recent years. The city is currently working with AMLJIA to complete an updated personnel handbook which, when completed, will be adopted by reference in the city code and take the place of the outdated personnel title. The city does not yet have formal written job descriptions for its utility employees either, nor a written utility personnel evaluation process. A probationary period has been applied to other city employees as they are hired, but an evaluation system isn't provided. The city does maintain personnel files for its utility operators which include I-9 forms, W4s, certifications and endorsements, leave applications, and an employment policy that addresses payroll, attendance, and drug testing. The city also has on hand general format job application forms, complaint forms, incident reports, and a staffing schedule.

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.
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.
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 Kake owns and operates the community's water and wastewater systems with the necessary authority to operate these systems provided in Title 54 of the Kake Code of Ordinances. However, this title was originally adopted in the 1980s and amendments to it since then have not been properly codified to reflect the city's current rate structure. Title 54 also outlines a utility bill collections policy, yet the city enforced a different policy in 2010 and has not enforced any collections policy since January 1st. RUBA staff is working with the city council to codify its ordinances and amend the code's outdated rate structure. A review of six months of council meeting minutes shows that the governing body is also actively working to establish and implement an effective collections policy that disconnects water service to delinquent customers. In September of 2010, the city acquired the necessary equipment and supplies to conduct disconnections, though none have been imposed this calendar year. The six-member council holds regular meetings as required by Alaska Statutes Title 29 on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Three council members also serve on the Airport, Water, and Roads Committee, which holds regular meetings to formulate utility-related recommendations to the larger body. The city complies with Alaska's Open Meetings Act by posting notice of each meeting at least five days in advance at the post office, the grocery store, the gas station, and the community building. Each notice indicates the type of meeting to be held, as well as its location, date, and time. While there is no formal utility management system outlined in the city code, an organizational chart has been adopted by the city and indicates that the city manager, John Janick, is the manager of Kake's utilities. Mr. Janick has only been with the city since May 2011, but brings significant municipal expertise from his previous position as the city manager for the City of Whittier. He holds a master's degree in public administration. Selma Jackson, the utility's bookkeeper, is also highly trained. She has years of experience working for the City of Kake and has undertaken critical training courses, including Introduction to QuickBooks, Elected Officials Management for Rural Utilities, Clerk Management for Rural Utilities, Utility Operations, and a University of Alaska course in bookkeeping for small businesses and non-profits. Ms. Jackson is considering participating in the 32-hour RUBA Personnel Management and Financial Management courses this summer as well. The State of Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Division of Water has rated Kake's water treatment system at the Class 2 level based on the plant's various components. The city's water distribution and wastewater collection systems are rated as Class 1 according to the number of connections these systems serve. The primary operator of these systems, Clifton 'Kip' Howard, holds the following endorsements and Continued Education Units (CEUs): Water Treatment, Level 1 - Expires 12/31/2013, CEUs met Water Distribution, Level 1 - Expires 12/31/2012, CEUs met Wastewater Collection - Not certified While Mr. Howard is not fully certified with DEC to operate the water treatment or wastewater collection systems, he has demonstrated the ability to run Kake's utilities effectively and reliably while actively pursuing new training opportunities. A backup operator is available to assist Mr. Howard, though he is not certified to operate Kake's utilities.

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.
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".
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
As explained in the 'Organizational Management' section, Kake's utility operators have not yet achieved the necessary certification level in all areas. Nonetheless, they continue to receive on-sight guidance from Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) engineers. The lead operator has also participated in a HAZWOPER training and various ANTHC water treatment seminars. The utility has not suffered any major outages due to mismanagement and operates at the proposed level of service. Though formal safety meetings aren't held, the utility manager is kept abreast of utility issues with verbal monthly status reports. The utility manager also makes regular site visits to review maintenance and safety issues. The utility's preventative maintenance plan consists of the operators examining all equipment on a monthly basis and unloading sewer tanks every two to four weeks. The remote maintenance worker also assists with equipment and facility review. Consumer confidence reports (CCRs) are issued as required. Still, the operation of Kake's utilities does face certain sustainability challenges. Kake Municipal Water remains on the Environmental Protection Agency's Significant Non-Compliance (SNC) list for its high levels of haloacetic acid (HAA5) disinfectant by-products (DBPs). Air scour upgrades have been underway in an attempt to address the problem, though a corrosion control study and continued testing may be required. The utility must obtain one quarter of testing without any HAA5 violations in order to return to compliance. Further, while certain critical spare parts such as electrical motors and sensors are kept on hand, the utility does not maintain a full critical spare parts list or an inventory control list.