Quarterly Report: 2008, October - December (Q2), Thorne Bay

Thorne Bay 
Lawrence Blood  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Thorne Bay 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water Lake, north of Thorne Bay, supplies water, which is treated and stored in a tank before piped distribution. The gravity sewage system includes secondary treatment before discharge into the bay. Approximately 75% of households are connected to the piped systems and are fully plumbed. Residents on the south side of the community use rain catchment, streams or springs, and a central water source is being designed for this area. Funds have not been secured to construct it. The City provides refuse collection services, a regional baler, a recycling facility and landfill, and participates in annual hazardous waste disposal events. Construction is underway to connect Thorne Bay and Kasaan to the Black Bear Lake Hydroelectric facility. Alaska Power Company provides electricity. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Juneau RUBA Staff traveled to Thorne Bay on August 20 and 21, 2007 to complete an assessment of management capacity indicators. This assessment was requested by the City Administrator to document improvements made in management capacity in the areas of utilities billing and operational procedures. Thorne Bay now meets all management essential indicators and a majority of the sustainable indicators. RUBA staff also traveled to Thorne Bay for the initial QuickBooks Pro accounting software installation and training. A contractor was hired by the RUBA program to provide this service to the utility department in Thorne Bay. The contractor and RUBA will makes three seperate trips to Thorne Bay to provide on-site training and after the third trip will draft and produce a customized QuickBooks manual for the community. Using the Division of Community and Regional Assistance (DCRA)business plan template, RUBA staff assisted Thirne Bay utility staff in drafting a business plan for the water treatment and water distribution systems. The community applied for a Village Safe Water (VSW) grant to upgrade their water treatment facility and believed that a current business plan was required. The City is also drafting a business plan for the wastewater system. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
The City of Thorne Bay was awarded a RUBA grant for onsite QuickBooks installation and training. Over the next quarter, RUBA staff and a QuickBooks contractor will travel to the community three times, approximately 30 days apart, to provide QuickBooks training to City staff and provide technical assistance with their accounting system. RUBA staff will continue to provide telephonic assistance as needed.
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
24 of 27
Total Score:
50 of 53


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.
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.
Yes Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
On June 19, 2007, Thorne Bay adopted a new water rate schedule that will increase the annual water fee revenue from $60,000 to approximately $130,000. This Council action came after an extensive rate analysis and rate setting process. Juneau RUBA staff assisted City staff for almost a year gathering data, developing collection strategies and looking for cost efficiencies for the utility. Monthly financial reports are prepared and submitted to the City Council.

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.
No 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 bills its customers on a regular basis, has an adopted collection policy and reports a 93% collection rate. The City Clerk is responsible for accounts receivable and the Accounting System Supervisor is responsible for all other accounting duties including collections, accounts payable and payroll. The community is currently using QuickBooks for their accounts receivable, accounts payable, and payroll. The community uses a manual receipt book system to record incoming funds, which is later entered into QuickBooks. The same receipt book is used for all funds coming into the community. The QuickBooks program appears to be working well for them with very few problems. The utility uses a purchase order system, which requires review and signature by the Administrator.

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
The City uses QuickBooks to calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities.

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
Thorne Bay has a well established and implemented personnel system and an adopted personnel policy handbook. The utility has a written hiring procedure with a 90 day probationary period for new hires. Job descriptions are updated and the personnel files are very well organized.

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 Council is the policy making body for the utility and meets as required and complies with the Open Meetings Act. The City has adopted the necessary ordinances that give it the authority to operate.

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".
No The utility is not on the "Significant Non-Complier" (SNC) list.
No The utility maintains an inventory control list.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The wastewater system is experiencing major inflow and infiltration of groundwater and storm water into the wastewater system. The likely cause of this problem is unsealed manhole covers and the age and poor design of the system. The utility's normal wastewater load is between 30,000 and 50,000 gallons per day (GPD). During heavy rain or snowmelt, the load on the sewer system can go up as much as ten fold to 500,000 GPD and overload the system. Inflow and infiltration is adding significant operating expenses to the wastewater treatment facility. The utility operator consults with the Administrator on a regular basis and provides formal O and M reports. The operator maintains an adequate level of supplies and spare parts for the utility, however does not maintain an inventory control or critical spare parts list. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) on 12/22/06 for failure to comply with provisions of the Stage 1 Disinfectant/Disinfection By-Product Rule. The NOV was issued for the water system's failure to monitor for Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM) and Haloacetic Acids (HAA5) and exceeding the maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for Trihalomethanes and Haloacetic Acids. The NOV requires the water system to collect TTHM / HAA5 samples each quarter, submit a plan of action for reducing TTHM / HAA5 and provide a public notice when exceeding TTHM / HAA5 MCL . The water utility completes and distributes its Community Confidence Report (CCR) The utility has returned to compliance and is no longer on the Significant Non-Compliance List for surface water treatment rule (SWTR) violations.