Quarterly Report: 2007, April - June (Q4), Adak

John Nickels  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Adak 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Adak operates and manages a piped water and sewer system. The city council is the policy making body for the utility. Surface water is derived from Lake Bonnie Rose, which is located approximately three miles southwest of the core townsite. The water utility is operated as a Class A public water system and operates under filtration avoidance (Public Water System Identification Number 260595); therefore, the only treatment provided is chlorination with required detention for disinfection. Water is treated, stored in two 450,000-gallon tanks, and piped to facilities and housing units. If needed, two 500,000-gallon storage tanks provide additional water storage. The wastewater treatment system discharges through a marine outfall line to Kuluk Bay. One-hundred percent of homes have complete plumbing. The City collects and deposits refuse at a municipal landfill, Roberts Landfill, which is a permitted Class Three landfill with balefill. The City also provides electricity, road maintenance, airport maintenance, and a small boat harbor facility. Bulk fuel is provided by the Aleut Corporation, which maintains nine underground tanks with a total capacity of approximately 18,000,000 gallons of marine diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel. Cable television is provided by Adak Eagle Enterprises. A feasibility study to provide guidance for water and wastewater utility downsizing, upgrading, and future utility project planning for the City of Adak is underway under the auspices of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Village Safe Water. The study is being conducted by the Bristol Environmental and Engineering Services Corporation located in Anchorage. Although the water treatment plant is operating and provides adequate potable water, the City of Adak is attempting to address numerous water and wastewater utility concerns including aging infrastructure, chronic leakage, and maintaining a water/wastewater utility designed for much larger capacity than is actually needed. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
April 30, 2007, RUBA received the Regulatory Commission Order U-07-5(2) in which the Commission is investigating public complaints and instances of utility service outages in Adak. Among other things, the Commission requested comments from agencies with information pertaining to Adak's utility management. RUBA staff forwarded to the Commission and the City of Adak the RUBA assessment report dated 11/2/2006 with a cover letter. RUBA staff attended a meeting June 8, 2007 with representatives of Village Safe Water (VSW), Bristol Environmental and Engineering, and the Aleutian Region Remote Maintenance Worker to discuss a failed pressure relief valve in the community's water system. This has resulted in an unsafe situation for utility operators, and VSW has chosen to waive the RUBA assessment requirement in order to replace the malfunctioning valve before a catastrophic failure occurs. VSW sanitation project funds will be used for the repairs, however, other elements of a planned sanitation project will not be included. At the consumer complaint hearing held 06/26/07, several residents commented on the management of the electrical and sanitation utilities. The biggest complaint was that not all customers were being billed for services and or the utility was not activiely collecting from some customers. Several people commented on the high costs of the phone service (private company). At the council meeting the next day, the VSW engineer informed the council that five million dollars in sanitation funding has been awarded to the city, but VSW cannot proceed with the project until the city corrects several significant management problems. DCA/RUBA staff then went over the management assessment completed in October of last year and spent time discussing the most serious issues: lack of collections, IRS tax issues, and no worker's compensation insurance. RUBA staff has had no contact from the community since this trip and meeting.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will continue to offer, and assist with deficient RUBA indicators or other local government and utility management issues if requested by the community.
Essential Indicators:
18 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
15 of 27
Total Score:
33 of 54


Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.
Yes The utility has adopted a balanced realistic budget.
No Monthly financial reports are prepared and submitted to the policy making board.
No 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.
No 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.
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.
Yes A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The FY-07 budget for the City of Adak, as adopted September 22, 2006, appeared to be complete and balanced; upon closer inspection, however, not all utility expenses were included in the utility budget. Water-sewer utility labor, insurance, electric, and heating fuel costs were not included in the utility budget, and although some of these were included elsewhere in the city budget, it is unclear what portions were attributable to the water-sewer utility. Some expenses may not have been included at all, such as water-sewer utility electric expense, which according to city staff, is not billed. As a result, it was very difficult to get an accurate picture of the costs involved with providing water and sewer service, and if sufficient revenues are received to cover operating expenses. Although not directly involved with the water-sewer utility, in reviewing the city budget, other discrepancies were noticed. Payments for a bank loan, reported to have been secured to resolve an IRS issue, did not appear in the budget. Payments for a loan with the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank did appear; however, the amount budgeted was significantly less than the amount shown in the loan agreement. Monthly financial reports have not been provided to the council recently; in the past, they consisted of a Profit/ Loss Report, with an Accounts Payable Summary. The current budget has not been entered into QuickBooks, so the software cannot produce a budget vs. actual report, which would be more meaningful for council members to understand whether revenues and expenses are above, equal to, or below those budgeted. However, by comparing the total expenses and revenues shown on a profit and loss report for the first quarter of the fiscal year, and comparing them to one quarter of the budgeted totals, it appeared that expenses were approximately on track, and revenues were under budget. It is unknown whether this is still the case. According to city staff, budget amendments are not adopted by the City Council. A monthly manager's report is not written, but management issues are presented verbally at council meetings, and recorded in the meeting minutes.

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 Adak has adopted a billing and collection policy, including provisions for disconnection of service for nonpayment. However, a substantial amount of customer debt overdue for greater than 90 days indicated that there has been a problem with collections. City staff reported that a decision by management to discontinue service for nonpayment was reversed by the City Council. All residential customers are now billed through the Power Stat meter system that requires payment in advance for electric service. Electric service is discontinued automatically by an electronic meter when prepaid credit is exhausted. Water, sewer, and landfill charges are also programmed into the system, effectively requiring prepayment for all residential utility services, and ensuring a high collection rate. There are a number of commercial and industrial users, however, that are not using the Power Stat system, and many that had large outstanding, greater than 90 day-old utility debt. City staff reported that a letter was sent to those customers demanding at least half of the past due amounts by the end of October 2006, with an agreement to pay the remainder within one year. It is unknown whether that effort to improve collections was successful. QuickBooks accounting software is used for all accounting functions. The bookkeeper demonstrated the various accounting systems, which were documented with printed copies of accounts receivable, accounts payable, and payroll reports. It was noted, however, that a bank loan secured earlier in 2006 did not appear on the accounts payable report, nor does a loan with the Alaska Municipal Bond Bank.

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.
No 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
An Authorization to Request Federal Tax Information was forwarded to the IRS. Their response indicates that significant amounts of federal taxes are owed for the final quarter of 2005, first quarter of 2006, and the second quarter of 2006. Alaska Dept. of Labor indicates the City of Adak is current with state reporting and filing requirements.

Personnel System

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
No The utility has adopted and follows a written personnel evaluation process that ties the job description to the evaluation.
No 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
A Notice of Worker's Compensation Insurance posted in the city office had expired two years ago. A current notice could not be located, and although city staff agreed to obtain one and see that RUBA staff received a copy, none has been received. A copy of Chapter 5.01 Personnel Regulations was provided, and city staff report that day to day personnel matters generally follow the policy, but it is not followed all the time. For example, performance evaluations are to be performed for each regular employee at least every 12 months, (5.01.50, #1.) however, staff indicates that evaluations are not conducted. The policy gives no direction regarding the evaluation being tied to the job description, nor is there an evaluation form provided. Job descriptions and a hiring policy are not included in the personnel regulations; however, job descriptions are maintained electronically on the Clerks computer. There is a probation period for new hires, but the policy does not require an evaluation at the end of the probation period.

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
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
Although the City of Adak is a relatively new second-class city, it is well known as the owner and operator of the community's utility services. The City Council is active and regular meetings are planned for the first and third Wednesday of each month. Workshop sessions are often held before meetings. There has been a lack of enforcement of utility policy in the area of collections as evidenced by a large amount of outstanding customer debt greater than 90 days old. City staff reported that the problem is being addressed. All residential customers are now billed through the Power Stat meter system that requires payment in advance for electrical service. Water, sewer, and landfill charges are also programmed into the system, effectively requiring prepayment for all residential utility services, and ensuring a high collection rate. Residential past due amounts were reportedly being paid by using 20% of each new utility payment. City staff reported that the commercial and industrial users that are not using the Power Stat system, and that have large outstanding, greater than 90 day-old utility debt were sent a letter demanding at least half of the past due amounts by the end of October 2006, with an agreement to pay the remainder within one year. At the time of the assessment, there had been no response. It is unclear if this collection strategy was effective, considering the Council's past reluctance to disconnect customers, and the lack of response from the community since the assessment. Those customers with past due amounts greater than 90 days that have left the community reportedly were turned over to a collections agency. RUBA staff was provided with a copy of an organizational chart; however, city staff indicated that the chart had not been adopted by the 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.
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.
No 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
City staff reported that there are maintenance plans and check lists for different components of the water and sewer systems. These plans are kept at the water treatment building and were not available for review. Safety meetings are held occasionally and follow a written safety guide to focus on different safety issues. Attendance is documented with a sign-in sheet. There are two operators; one is certified as Operator In Training (OIT) for Wastewater Treatment and Collection, as well as Water Distribution, all expired 12/31/2006. This operator is also certified as level 1 for Water Treatment, expiring 12/31/07. The other operator is certified as OIT for water distribution and treatment, both expiring 12/31/07. The manager indicated that operations and maintenance reports are not created, and that status reports from the operator generally occur only when there are issues that need his attention. Lists for inventory and critical spare parts are not used, however, an attempt is made to have critical spare parts on hand.