Quarterly Report: 2009, January - March (Q3), Huslia

Leroy Seppilu  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Huslia 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City Council operates the piped water and sewer system and maintains a central watering point where residents come to haul water to their residences. The city also maintains a sewage lagoon and a solid waste site. The City Council is the policy making body for the utility. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On March 5-6, 2009, Fairbanks RUBA staff member Jeremy Johnson met with Huslia city staff to complete a RUBA Assessment of Management Capacity Indicators. The results of that asessment are documented below.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
The City currently meets all RUBA essential indicators and most sustainable indicators. Fairbanks RUBA staff will continue to provide support telephonically or otherwise at the community's request.
Essential Indicators:
27 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
26 of 27
Total Score:
53 of 54


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 Huslia Water Development (utility) budget, which is separate from the city budget, is concise. All revenues and expenses are listed and the budget is balanced. The utility receives revenue from three sources and is projected to end the fiscal year $800 over budget. Revenue is received from the water and sewer customers, which currently is at 48% of the budgeted income. The second source of income is from the washeteria for washing clothes and personal showers (there are no dryers and the system was not designed to include them: 'too expensive' was the rational). The third and final revenue source is from the State of Alaska revenue sharing program which the city passes through to the utility. The city budget has allocated $34,000 to go to the utility to cover fuel and PERS expenses. That transfer has not yet occurred but according to the city's financial reports, the money is available for the spring fuel barge. As the city has not transferred the money to the utility, RUBA is unable to justify stating that revenues are equal to or above those budgeted. When the city provides the financial assistance, the utility will be able to show that revenues are equal to or above the budget and the sustainable indicator will change to reflect that. At the moment, bills do not include an amount designated for repair and replacement, although the utility receives funding from the city sufficient to cover these costs; a copy of the city's budget is also on file in the Fairbanks office. The city administrator stated that a new rate structure was going to be proposed to the city council for adoption by July 1, which will include $5 for repair and replacement. The new rate amount has not yet been determined by the administrator. Previously, there was a repair and replacement fund of $15,000 which was used for the old water facility. A new facility was brought online in October 2008; the city has yet to accept official ownership. Except for the necessary revenue transfer described above, the revenues and expenses are at the levels budgeted. This assessment was completed on March 5th, which is about eight months into the fiscal year; this would mean the utility should be at about 66% of the budgeted line item ammounts. They are at 68% of the budget. The financial reports indicate they are at 48% of the budget but that is because the fuel appropriation has not been transferred from the city budget as the spring barge has not delivered fuel. The city currently has the necessary funds to transfer. The administrator provides a monthly verbal report to the city council but does not provide printed financial reports or a manager's narrative. She stated that the financial reports are provided quarterly. RUBA recommends that the printed financial reports be given to the council members at every meeting. The summary of the verbal report is recorded into the meeting minutes, of which a copy is on file in the Fairbanks RUBA office. Within the next six months, RUBA recommends that printed reports which show the budget compared to monthly activity and year to date information are provided to the council. The utility operator provides verbal reports to the administrator, who then gives a verbal report to the council. As with the financial reports, written reports are recommended.

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 utility is active in enforcing the collection policy, of which RUBA has a copy. Previous RUBA assessments have reported the collection rate for Huslia to be 95%. When reviewing the A/R aging summary report, it appears that the average collection rate for the last three months is 82%. The utility does not shut off customers in the winter because the lines would freeze and rupture; it is expected that during the winter collection rates would dip because enforcement is delayed. This is not to indicate that enforcement is lax or not occurring. The utility is equipped to disconnect homes with a shut off valve at the residence (digging up the main is not necessary) and uses a collection agency for problem accounts. Upon reviewing the customer accounts, it is evident that many customers prepay for the service. The utility has an adequate accounting system with QuickBooks. Bills are distributed the third week of every month. The city administrator, who is also the utility clerk, receives customer payments, issues a handwritten receipt from the bound receipt book and at the end of the week (either Thursday or Friday) she enters the payments into QuickBooks.

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
Both the Alaska Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service deem the city and utility compliant. With a small staff, longevity of employees, and accurate filing of reports, the employer's contribution to ESC is at 1%. This is a very low contribution amount and is a result of accurate and timely filings.

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 utility has a workers compensation policy posted in the city office through AML-JIA and it expires on July 1, 2009. AML also assisted in the creation of the personnel policy manual which was shown to me for review. I did not make copies, as the manual is large and the copier is slow but upon review it supports the sustainable indicator. A copy of the janitor's job description and a copy of the water operator's task list (daily through annual duties) were obtained. The utility only has the above mentioned two employees. A job description and the evaluation for the operator were not secured because the employee files containing that data were not accessible at the time of the assessment. The longevity of the staff contribute to a superbly run office. The second day of the assessment marked the 29 year anniversary that the administrator has worked for the city. In the event that punitive personnel discussions are necessary, the city council meets in executive session with the employee. For day to day personnel issues, the city administrator meets with the employees. Training opportunities are available to staff. The water operator receives training to maintain the required certifications and the city administrator has attended RUBA classes.

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
The city owns the utility as established in ordinance. Currently, there are two washeterias and water treatment facilities. As stated previously, a new system was built and brought online in October 2008 but that system is still in the final phases of being signed over to the city. The city plans on shutting the older facility down this summer. The city council is the policy making body for the utility and is active in making policy and enforcing the current policy (this is supported by a high collection rate). The utility manager and bookkeeper functions are fulfilled by Elsie Vent who is also the city administrator. She is highly capable; the office is extremely organized, she has been employed by the city for a long time, she has attended previous RUBA classes and the books for the utility are in order. A copy of the utility ordinance, which gives it the authority to operate, is on file in the Fairbanks office . The city council, as the utility policy making body, meets monthly and the meetings are open to the public. A copy of the organizational chart was hanging on the city wall and a photo copy was made. The utility has two employees and the city has three employees, it is a very streamlined organization. There are two gentlemen who are training to become certified water operators to work as on-call alternates.

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.
Yes The utility has completed and distributed its "Consumer Confidence Report".
Yes 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 operator, Emil Sam, is currently certified with water treatment and distribution level 1 certificates which expire December 31 2009 and 2010, respectively. He also has a wastewater collection OIT certificate and that expires the end of 2010. There are two alternate operators, Daryl Sam and Mike Simon, who have their OIT certificates in treatment and distribution and are currently going through the process to become level 1 certified to work as needed. A preventative maintenance plan was created in 2001 (it is a 20 year plan) by the engineering firm Montgomery Watson. This plan is large and a copy was not made but it was inspected by RUBA, it is currently housed next to the administrator's computer for easy access. The operator provides frequent updates to the manager both in person and over the phone. The manager/administrator then reiterates the information to the council at the monthly meetings. Both reports are provided orally and the summary is recorded in the meeting minutes. The administrator attends safety meeting telephonically and then mails the lesson to each employee. The new utility is functioning as designed except that the administrator mentioned the new wells have frozen in the extreme cold. The wellhead is not located inside the treatment facility, as is the case with the old utility. It is the opinion of the administrator that this is a design flaw. The temporary freeze has not yet effected production. As the structure has not been signed over from ANTHC, negotiations to work out the kinks are occurring. The utility has an inventory and critical spare parts list for the old plant but the new lists are still being created. Devan Currier, ANTHC engineer, said in a phone call that he is creating them for the new plant. The administrator creates the CCR and the utility is not on the SNC list.