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

Margaret Hansen  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Ambler 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The main source of water for the community is a 167' well near the Kobuk River. Water is pumped 940 feet to the treatment facility and stored in a 210,000-gallon insulated tank, then piped to most homes. An 80' standby well is also located at the water treatment plant. Sewage is collected via six and eight inch arctic pipes and flows to a facultative lagoon through two lift stations where it discharges to a natural watershed, then the Kobuk River. Last year the city had to file an DEC accidental discharge/spill notification report due to a leak in their sewage lagoon. They repaired it using 40 sand bags and hauled frozen leakage to the dump site. Currently, 53 homes are served by the piped water and sewer system. Funds have been requested to connect the remaining 13 homes and offices to the piped system. A new water treatment plant, washeteria, and sewage lagoon have been funded. The landfill is not permitted. Here is the status of the projects: The plans for the sewage lagoon, lift station, and force main are complete. The intent was to finish construction of these during the summer 2006 but due to asbestos in the gravel, NANA has not released any usuage of their gravel as yet. It has been reported that the washeteria project is on hold because the IRA will not sign for the approval for the funds ANTHC found another $125,000.00 to complete the project. The Water Treatment Plant design is 100% complete. Right now the city is waiting to hear from ANTHC whether or not other projects funds from the south loop extension can be reallocated for the water treatment plant, sewage lagoon and washeteria projects. The sewage lagoon project started last fall and is scheduled to be completed this fall.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Kotzebue RUBA staff traveled to Ambler January 14, 2009 to provide financial management and year end tax report training to the new city administrator and financial report training to the council members. Three months of monthly financial reports, bank reconciliations, quarterly tax reports, and annual payroll reports were all completed. The council also enjoyed a two hour session on how to read a financial report in comparison to their budget, when to amend their budget, and reviewed their first draft washeteria budget. RUBA staff explained the need to monitor the revenue and expenses very closely, amend their budget as needed, and recommended they have a savings account to pay for repair and maintenance. They are hoping that a washeteria project will be complete and operational by July. This quarter, Kotzebue RUBA also provided phone, fax, and email assistance to the community with financial reports and fuel sales and storage problems.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff has plans to travel in May to provide training and assistance to the administrator in developing her first budget for FY10 and completing her first Certified Financial Statement.
Essential Indicators:
27 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
23 of 26
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
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.
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
They do list all revenues and expenses onto their monthly financial report in comparison to their budget. The new administrator showed me a bill from AVEC that the previous administration did not keep current so they owed three months of back electric bills. She was to get with AVEC to work out a payment plan. We also found that they have six customers that were three months delinquent which put them in a cash flow problem. The new administrator will provide them with an disconnection notice and report this to the council to set the disconnection date. Although they do have funds in their fuel account to cover some of the cost overruns, they are doing very well not to spend any of those funds so they have enough money to purchase fuel in advance as the weather can be a problem in Ambler keeping them from delivery fuel for over a week. The administrator is preparing a manager's report, and will submit an budget amendment to the council this next month.

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 new administartor has noticed the delinquent customers about their water/sewer policies discussing the disconnection of delinquent custormers during her regular monthly bills they send out. She will report this to the council to authorize hire of laborers to help disconnect those still delinquent by time of council meeting. The city uses the Norhtwest Arctic Borough accounting system which tracks accounts receivable, payable's, payroll and cash disbursements using a chart of accounts(their budget), which they reconcile on a monthly basis. When an expense to line items identifed are requested, the clerk uses a purchase order using a check request requiring approval of the administrator who reviews the latest monthly financial report and current expenditure as well as amount of funds in the account before approving the purchase.

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
During the on site training to the administrator, we reviewed the entire payroll and tax reporting system. She had not done any tax deposits since she was not trained in that area for the entire month of January which we got her to pay to get caught up. We found that all tax reports were completed and there were no known tax liabilities. This last quarter she only owed IRS $49.00 which she is sending today along with her 941 to IRS.

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
Their workmen's compensation policy is in effect until June 2009. They still are using the adopted personnel policies that were reviewed by their lawyer and AML. They still had a file with all their job descriptions, with evaluations completed. They follow their written hiring process with a three month probationary period with some orientation, on the job training. The files had evaluations of past employees, I-9 forms with Job application and letter of acceptance. In the past, the council did provide the clerk and administrator numerous opportunities to further their training who attended all RUBA training 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 Council understands that they own the utility and actively enforces the policies. Although they have hired a new administartor, she has the administrative skills to do the job and received on site training and assistance to learn to do her job well by RUBA. In the interim, they had hired the previous clerk to do some training to her before I arrived so the clerk position was being advertised which does part of a bookkeepers job. Although the operators are trained to do their job, neither one has received any certification as yet.

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".
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
This administrator reviews and meets with her operators sometimes daily. Their certified operator resigned but the two operators they have are attending training classess in Kotzebue this spring. These two operators have not had any safety meetings as yet. The utility is operating a the level of service as proposed with the operators providing the administrator reports on a routine basis who maintains an inventory and critical spare parts list. There are not on the SNC list.