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

Iura Leahu  
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 provides water and sewer (flush and haul), watering point, honey bucket bin rentals hauling (HBBR) and washeteria services, which include public showers, laundromat and water sale services. The main clients are the city residents, school, clinic and other non-profit and for-profit businesses. There is some residential plumbing currently in use. There are approximately 15 homes that utilize an above ground septic system. Most residents haul their own water from the washeteria. In the summer, most residents collect rain from rooftops. In the winter, residents simply chop off chunks of ice from one of two ponds located about five miles away from the city, load it into their snow machines, and take it to their homes. The school, local health clinic, city hall and garage use common water and sanitary sewer systems. The city garage has the heavy equipment, fire truck, the Shishmaref emergency services office and the city lodge. The water is being treated at the treatment plant located in the washeteria. The city uses the pumphouse distribution plant to transport water to the businesses listed above. Both the washeteria and pumphouse have separate water storage tanks. The treated water is delivered to these buildings via water pipes. The generated waste is transported through sewage pipes to the sewage lagoon located approximately 300 yards away from the buildings.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff had frequent contact with city and utility staff. The city council has had multiple meetings, regular and special meetings, to discuss the proposal to conduct a community site selection feasibility study for the possible future city relocation. The city and city utility has also jointly worked with other regional and community organization to discuss building a new consolidated tank farm to assure the city has adequate fuel for the community. Nome RUBA staff assistance this quarter consisted of designing the organizational chart, reorganizing and revising of several sections of the code of ordinances, and submitting those sections to the city council for approval. In April of 2011, the utility bookkeeper attended and completed a 32-hours Financial Utility Management class sponsored by the RUBA Program. The city hired a new city bookkeeper. Nome RUBA staff was informed that the bookkeeper is in need of training and the city would like RUBA staff provide onsite training to the city bookkeeper and other city staff. The city council decided in May of 2011 to lay off the utility bookkeeper because of lack of funding. However, the city council rehired the bookkeeper about a month later. At the July city council meeting, a decision was made to reduce the work hours for the city clerk and city bookkeeper due to lack of funding. The city council also invited Nome RUBA staff to travel to Shishmaref on July 13, 2011.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff will make at least one trip to the city to work with the city council and city staff to meet the essential and sustainable indicators identified in the quarterly RUBA report. RUBA staff assistance for the next five months will consist of the following: 1. Codify the code of ordinances 2. Provide onsite financial managment training to the new city bookkeeper. 3. Assist the utility create and maintain an inventory control and critical spare parts list 4. Meet with the city council to provide training on rate setting and review user fees rates
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
21 of 26
Total Score:
47 of 52


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.
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 Shishmaref operates the utility as an enterprise. The utility is compliant with the essential indicators of the utility finance. The regular scheduled meeting minutes of June 21, 2011, show that the city council approved the FY 2012 budget with corrections. The utility and city finances are in good standing. The city, however, continues to struggle receiving the necessary utility related revenues to cover the operating expenses. The city council made a decision to continue subsidizing the washeteria by transferring money from other funds, such as the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT). The newly hired city bookkeeper and the utility clerk prepare monthly financial reports and submit them to the city council on monthly basis. The bookkeeper provided RUBA staff with the last three months' monthly financial reports. The city council is active in the budget appropriation process and it has a good grasp of the fiscal reality of the city and utility. The council makes informed decisions regarding utility finances because it receives and reviews monthly financial reports.

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 council laid off the utility clerk due to lack of funds but rehired the clerk a month later. The utility clerk attended and completed a 32-hours Financial Utility Management class sponsored by the RUBA Program. The utility clerk is responsible for the cash receipt system and collections. The clerk sends out monthly utility bills to customers and offers a payment plan option to delinquent customers. The utility clerk passes along the financial information to the city bookkeeper, who uses QuickBooks Pro 2010 to generate monthly financial reports, prepare monthly bank reconciliations and track payroll liabilities.The city clerk reported that all purchases are made in accordance with the budget. The QuickBooks Pro monthly financial reports are converted to Excel spreadsheet format which makes them much easier for council members to read and understand.

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
Confirmation was recieved showing the city and the utility were compliant with the federal tax deposits and the Department of Labor. The city and the utility use QuickBooks Pro 2010 to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities. The city has no past tax liabilities or liens recorded.

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 city and the utility has general liability and workers' compensation coverage. The workers compensation insurance is purchased through Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA) that is valid until July 1, 2012. The city and the utility follow the personnel policies in the day-to-day management of personnel. All city departments, including the fuel sales and washeteria, use the city's comprehensive personnel policies. Although the city's code of ordinances contains written job descriptions, written procedures on personnel evaluation and hiring, the code of ordinances needs to be reviewed, updated, and codified. Currently, the city clerk is working on codifying the code of ordinances. RUBA staff in Nome obtained a copy of the code of ordinances and has been working with the city clerk in revising and updating the code. The city maintains personnel files for all the city employees. The city clerk reported that the city did not include Form I-9 for each employee yet, but it is in the process of updating all employees' files to include I-9. The city and the utility have a probationary period for new hires that includes orientation, job-training/oversight and evaluation, which is completed after ninety days of an employee on the job. The city and the utility provide training opportunities to staff as funds are available.

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
Shishmaref's utility is operated as an enterprise. It has a utility board which consists of members of the city council. The board is active in policy making and the city enforces the utility policies as per the code of ordinances. The city clerk and members of the city council reported that the board has monthly utility meetings. The utility has a certified water operator, who is the manager and is supervised by the city clerk. The council hears monthly oral reports on the operation, finances and management of the utility from the operator. There is also an alternate water operator who works part-time or as needed. The alternate operator provided a tour of the washeteria and the two water treatment facilities to RUBA staff. The operator was proud to hold his job because the utility has provided good clean water to the residents. The city has a current organizational chart posted on the wall of the city clerk's office. Nome RUBA staff created a new organizational chart and emailed it to the city. The utility has a bookkeeper who keeps track of the utility finances. The bookkeeper is a part-time employee. The bookkeeper was laid off but rehired in July of 2011. The city council plays an active role in policy making. The April through June public meeting minutes show that the council discusses the utility finances and adopts budget amendments to facilitate the operation of the utility without creating interruption in services. The city council asked for more assistance in setting rates.

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.
Yes 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.
N/A 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
The utility has a lead and an alternate water operator. The lead water operator is certified and is pursuing CEU's to maintain his certification. The alternate water operator does not have a certificate but he has attended classes, has been actively working towards certification and has a total of approximately five years of experience as a water operator. The utility has a preventive maintenance plan and a safety manual. According to meeting minutes, the utility holds monthly safety meetings by phone. The safety meetings are provided by the Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA). The utility has not suffered any major problems or outages for many years. The operator provides oral status reports to the city council and meets all required regulations. The utility is not on the Significant Non-Compliance list. The utility does not maintain an inventory control list and a critical parts list. RUBA staff recommended that the governing body address this problem. RUBA staff advised the governing body to contact the remote maintainance worker or the engineer assigned to the city to ask for assistance in creating an inventory control list.