Quarterly Report: 2008, July - September (Q1), Shishmaref

Josephine Bahnke  
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, and a washeteria. They also provide 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. Nineteen HUD homes have been completed, and 71 homes remain. The new system provides water delivery, but the unserved homes continue to haul their own water. The city hauls honeybuckets and the new flush tanks. The school, clinic, Friendship Center, City Hall and fire hall are connected to a sewage lagoon. A new landfill is planned for the City; an access road is under construction.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff provided technical assistance via phone, fax, and e-mail this quarter, and at the request of the City Council, Nome RUBA staff travelled to Shishmaref on July 18, 2007 to conduct a RUBA management capacity assessment. This required gathering financial, accounting, and other organizational paperwork necessary to complete an assessment report. Interviews were also conducted with Council members and City staff. In addition to conducting a RUBA assessment, Nome RUBA staff helped draft a request for proposals (RFP) to solicit auditing services and assisted with the completion of workers' compensation insurance paperwork. An RFP is the first step for the City to meet the State's single audit requirement which was triggered by the City spending more than $300,000 in State funds during 2006. On July 19, 2007, RUBA staff met with the City Council during a work session to provide an update on current and future RUBA program activities, 2008 Alaska Municipal League/Joint Insurance Association (AML/JIA) policy, and single audit requirements. RUBA staff and the Council reviewed and revised two ordinances for clarification of City Council election seats and Planning Committee membership. Sales tax ordinance enforcement issues were also discussed. Nome staff followed up the visit with a written RUBA assessment, draft ordinance revisions, and local government staff requests for assistance or information.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff will continue to assist the City with meeting essential management indicators. In October, the Bookkeeper will attend a RUBA sponsored Payroll Tax Workshop in Nome.
Essential Indicators:
22 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
21 of 26
Total Score:
43 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
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.
N/A Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The City Council adopted the FY08 budget in May, 2007. The utility budget, which consists of all services, is projected to spend $174,850 for FY08 with a majority of the expenses ($138,600) dedicated to the Washeteria. The City projects $153,800 in revenue for all combined utility services. This leaves the City with a projected $21,500 shortfall that will be supplemented with Municipal Energy Assistance Program funding. The City of Shishmaref participated in the NSEDC Bulk Fuel Purchasing program this year. The order of 32,000 gallons of heating oil was purchased at $2.82 a gallon, which will obligate the City to pay NSEDC approximately $90,000 or $7,500 a month before next year's order. While the City is receiving revenues sufficient to cover operating costs, there are no repair and replacement funds set aside specifically for unexpected expenses. Monthly financial reports are submitted by the bookkeeper and are of excellent quality.

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
Bills are sent to bin haul customers once a month. Delinquent customers are sent letters with reminders at the same time. The City utilizes a NEBS receipt system and individual customer cards to track accounts receivable and past due amounts. The Bookkeeper manually calculates payroll, enters it into the Economik register, individual personnel files, and an excel worksheet. The City Clerk produces the payroll checks using QuickBooks accounting software. Cash disbursements are accounted for with the use of envelopes marked with the account. A reasonable and usable chart of accounts is used in both NEBS and Economik register. Purchase order forms are used by City staff to procure necessary supplies and equipment. The City Bookkeeper is current on bank reconciliations.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility has a system to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities.
No 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
The City of Shishmaref has experienced Federal and State tax problems the past several years. This was due to City staff failing to file and pay on a regular and quarterly basis. At present, the City owes a moderate amount to the IRS and has agreed to utilize FY08 Municipal Energy Assistance Program funds to repay past tax liabilities. While there is no official repayment plan in place, the IRS Collections Agent, Janice Stowell, has verbally agreed to this arrangement and has stated that no levies will be placed on City bank accounts. The City sells pull-tabs and reports to the state but has never filed and paid gaming taxes (form 11-C and monthly wager form 730) They are required to report and pay IRS.

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.
No 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 City of Shishmaref had a 2007 workers compensation insurance policy through AML/JIA that expired on June 30, 2007. All the necessary paperwork was completed by the Bookkeeper during the RUBA staff visit, but the policy is not in effect at the time of this report. The City Clerk oversees day-to-day personnel management duties. This includes new hire orientation and conducting evaluations. The job descriptions reviewed for the purpose of this report do not adequately reflect the actual work being performed by City staff. For example, the Bookkeeper job duties state that the position is responsible for customer billings and payroll but it is the City Clerk who performs all or a portion of these duties.

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.
N/A 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.
No The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
The City of Shishmaref owns and operates all sanitation infrastructure within the municipal boundaries. Both the City Clerk (Manager) and Bookkeeper have attended RUBA sponsored workshops. The Water Operator, Art Sheldon, is Level 2 certified in Water Treatment. The City does not comply with the Open Meetings Act (OMA) for all City meetings. Meetings that are in violation of the OMA are usually emergency joint meetings held with other local governing bodies.

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.
Yes The utility maintains an inventory control list.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
As reported under the organizational management section, the Water Operator, Art Sheldon, is certified. In addition, he successfully completed a Water Treatment Rules training sponsored by ANTHC in Kotzebue last quarter. Mr. Sheldon provides routine maintenance and daily status reports on his timesheets. The City is provided a safety manual by AML/JIA, but safety meetings are not held on a regular basis. The City of Shishmaref water system is on the SNC list for violation of the Surface Water Treatment Rule. In late 2006, two Public Notices were sent to the City from State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regarding high turbidity, monitoring summary, and sampling reminder.