Quarterly Report: 2010, April - June (Q4), Shishmaref

Steve Brock  
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 operates a central watering point, a water truck delivery service, multiple watering points, a washeteria, and a honey bucket service. The city council is the policy making body for the utility. Water is derived from a surface source; it is treated and stored in a new tank. Shishmaref is undergoing major improvements, with the construction of a flush/haul system and household plumbing. No homes have piped water at this time. Many residents continue to haul their own water. The City hauls honey buckets and services the new flush tanks. Flush systems are functional in 17 residential homes. The school, clinic, city hall and fire hall are connected to a sewage lagoon.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
At the request of the Shishmaref City Council, Nome RUBA staff traveled to Shishmaref on May 27 and 28, 2010 to conduct the RUBA assessment. RUBA staff met with the city council to discuss the RUBA assistance agreements and management assessments. The council approved the agreement unanimously and RUBA staff will schedule travel quarterly travel to Shishmaref to provide on site assistance. RUBA staff toured the water plant with the plant operator to become familiar with the layout of the system. The RUBA assessment was completed during the visit. The utility did not meet all the essential indicators. RUBA staff also provided assistance during the quarter with several personnel issues, questions concerning local option laws, and possible drug testing requirements. Per an informal request from the city council, the mayor resigned as mayor but retained his city council seat until the fall regular scheduled election.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff will develop a work plan with the city to help the utility pass the essential and sustainable indicators that have not been met. A site visit will be scheduled for this coming quarter to assist the city with implementing the work plan.
Essential Indicators:
26 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
18 of 27
Total Score:
44 of 54


Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.
No 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.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The city bookkeeper is skilled in the use of QuickBooks Pro and has a detailed chart of accounts that lists all revenues and expenses for the utility. Neither the utility budget nor the overall city budget were originally adopted as a balanced budgets. Both budgets had revenues that exceeded expenditures. Using QuickBooks and Excel, the city bookkeeper provides the city council with monthly profit and loss statements that compare income and expenses to the adopted budget. RUBA staff confirmed that the utility electric bills were tracked in the accounts payable system and were current with the invoices received from Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC). At the end of May, the utility still had 3,000 gallons of fuel remaining, which will last until the fuel barge arrives. The utility continues to operate in the black. Year-to-date revenues were $193,314 while expenditures were $172,730. Repair and Replacement costs were less year-to-date than budgeted; $15,000 was budgeted for repair and replacement and only $3,875 had been spent. With revenues of $193,314 and projected revenues to be $159,775, year-to-date expenditures are 88% of the forecast budget amount. The monthly managers report is presented to the governing body. A copy of the report from the most recent meeting was provided to the RUBA staff. No budget amendments had been made for FY10 as of May 2010.

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 city bookkeeper has excellent financial management experience and uses it to the advantage of the city. The utility bills and records are accurate and kept up to date. A NEBS cash receipt system is used to record cash receipts. The bookkeeper has developed a functional chart of accounts that adequately covers the operations of the utility. All incoming revenues are identified and properly credited to the revenue category. Monthly bank statements are reconciled as soon as they are received. The city clerk and the bookkeeper ensure that all purchases are made in accordance with items identified in the city budget. The mayor has the final signatory authority on the checks, also verbally verifies with the bookkeeper to assure that the funds being spent are not in excess of the budgeted amounts. The profit and loss statements confirm that actual expenditures have not exceeded the budgeted amounts.

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
The utility bookkeeper utilizes QuickBooks Pro to calculate, track and report payroll tax liabilities. The bookkeeper presented to RUBA staff the current tax filing reports. The utility makes tax deposits at each payroll event as evidenced by the accounts payable journal entries. RUBA staff contacted the IRS and confirmed that the utility and city are current with tax reports and tax deposits. RUBA also contacted the Department of Labor to learn that the city is deemed compliant at this time.

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
The notice of workers compensation coverage was posted in plain view in the city office. The city is insured through AMLJIA. Their policy ran from July 1,2009 to June 30,2010. The utility has written job descriptions for each position on file in their personnel policy handbook. These job descriptions are utilized to complete both the probationary and routine evaluations. The utility uses the hiring process outlined in the city's ordinances and restated in the personnel policy handbook. The utility has personnel folders for all employees, however some folders are more complete than others. The I-9 forms and letters of acceptance were the primary documents not included in the folders. The manager was unaware that these documents were required. The standard probationary period for all new hires is six months.

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
No 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 utility. The manager, bookkeeper and operator have all been in their positions over two years. The operator is certified at the classification level for the system he operates. The operator is successfully running a complex water treatment and distribution system. The operator takes pride in producing a quality water product for the community. The city council meets as scheduled on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month and includes the utility issues as part of the regular agenda. The city council has made no amendments to the 2010 budget as of this assessment. The city needs to develop additional ordinances to cover the activities that they are currently practicing. The utility has no codification of sewer and water rates for either commercial or residential accounts. The utility does not have a written organizational chart. The lack of this documentation has generated some animosity among citizens of Shishmaref, who have only verbal information to go by. The city councilis the policy making body,and meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month as prescribed in the city ordinances. The utility is vigilant in complying with the open meetings act. RUBA staff observed posted notices displayed in three different locations in town announcing a special meeting of the city council.

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.
No 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
The operator is pursing his CEU's to maintain his certification. The Preventive Maintenance Plan is clearly posted on the water plant wall. The operator does not generate a formal operations and maintnenace report, nor is the manager doing spot checks. The utility does not hold safety meetings or have a formal safety manual. The utility has not completed the annual CCR. The utility is currently on the SNC list for stage 1 violations. The utility has not missed a monthly sample in the past twelve months but the system still exceeds the TTHM RAA MCL.The Remote Maintenance Worker is working with the city's utility operators to get the utility off the SNC list. The utility does not have an inventory control list or a critical spare parts list. The operator is very knowledgeable and does keep the critical spare parts on hand. He also orders replacement spare parts as needed.