Quarterly Report: 2013, October - December (Q2), Seldovia

Jedediah Smith  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
First Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Seldovia 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Seldovia, a city of approximately 255 residents, is located on the Kenai Peninsula, on the south shore of Kachemak Bay. Seldovia is accessible by small plane, ferry, and private boat. Water is derived from the Fish Creek Reservoir and is treated, stored in a tank, and distributed via water mains. Wastewater is piped to a community septic tank for primary treatment, then discharged to an ocean outfall. Two hundred and four (204) homes and facilities are served by the system; all homes are completely plumbed. The community is categorized as a Class 1 System in water and wastewater treatment and distribution. Seldovia is currently engaged in a water and wastewater pipe replacement and upgrade project funded by Village Safe Water (VSW). The community intends to construct a filtration facility to address water contaminant issues.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Anchorage RUBA staff has been providing coverage to community until new RUBA staff is hired in January 2013. The city has provided the Code of Ordinances to RUBA staff for codification, the local code has the utility ordinances. City staff is enthusiastic about signing a RUBA agreement, enabling RUBA staff to visit on-site quarterly to support and assist in shifting remaining management indicators.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
New RUBA staff will continue to work closely with Seldovia staff, toward a goal of fulfilling all essential indicators on the RUBA assessment, as well as the sustainable indicators. The City of Seldovia has agreed to sign and engage in a RUBA agreement, in order that RUBA staff can support this process through quarterly on-site visits.
Essential Indicators:
21 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
23 of 27
Total Score:
44 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.
No 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
The city council is the governing body of the utility, and meets as required by city ordinance. The FY13 budget was reviewed and adopted by the council. The budget separates utility enterprises from the general budget, allowing a clear financial picture of the utility services the city provides. Water utility rates typically cover operating expenses, without additional subsidy. In FY12, there was a small deficit based on uncollected usage fees. Seldovia does have a repair and maintenance account established for its water utility; this has been sufficient to cover repairs and parts replacement. Minutes from four recent council meeting confirm that financial reports are regularly given at city council meetings, and that utility management decisions are discussed by the council. The financial reports do not show the budget vs actual for the water utility. Minutes from the June 27 council meeting indicate substantial discussion of implementation of collections policy for monies owed the city water utility. With the community's construction of a new water filtration plant, costs of supplying water may need to be recalculated. Village Safe Water will submit financial projections to the city as an aspect of project planning. Seldovia will need to determine whether rate increases, an empowered collections policy, and/or subsidization from other funds will accommodate any increased expense. Fuel is readily available, with purchases month to month or as needed. The city has a contractual relationship with a private vendor; the city provides tanks and lines, while the private entity provides the land on which the tanks are situated and the retail services. The city is offered a small discount on fuel costs through this arrangement, which originated with a Denali Commission grant in 2003/04 for upgrade of tanks, lines and pumps. This contract will soon be reviewed and possibly renegotiated; rapidly escalating fuel costs are notable in city expenses. The retailing entity has limited resources for making large fuel orders; costs are increased by retailer purchase of partial fuel shipments. Electricity is provided by Homer Electric Association, and the community is current with payment.

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
Seldovia has adopted a utility ordinance which includes a collections policy; this requires providing notice to past-due accounts and disconnecting service. However, Seldovia's collections policy has not been enforced to the point of service disconnection; many customers are in arrears. The city council is engaged in committed discussion toward initiating disconnection of water utility customers for non-payment. The council is also considering amending the current utility ordinance to clarify responsibility for utility payment in landlord/tenant situations. Accounting systems are in place; Seldovia bookkeeping staff use QuickBooks, and are confident in its use. Oversight and controls for purchases are developed. The city office is well staffed, with a full-time city clerk, a full-time bookkeeper, and a part-time bookkeeping assistant. All three display competency in their work, and have a comprehensive understanding of the city's financial systems. Bank reconciliations are made monthly. The city has recently arranged to electronically scan checks for deposit; this will streamline an already efficient system. Decision making related to disbursement in excess of budgeted amounts is determined by the city manager.

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.
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 IRS report dated December 31, 2012 shows that the city has no record of a lien. The city is not compliant with required federal tax deposits and filing. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Employment Security Divisions report from December 14, 2012 states that the city is in compliance with state tax filing and deposits and is not on the September-October 2012 Lien Watch.

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.
No 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
Seldovia has workers compensation insurance with Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA) to July 2013. The community's adopted personnel policy is comprehensive. New hires have a ninety day probationary period. Employees receive retirement, paid leave, and paid holidays. Public works employees (as well as police and harbor employees) are members of IBEW 457, and so are paid to union scale. Job descriptions are maintained for all positions. Individual personnel folders contain all required information, including I-9s, job applications, and personnel actions. There is not an active, scheduled practice of regular employee evaluation and feedback. While policy specifies job evaluation as an aspect of an employee probationary period, this is irregularly followed in practice. RUBA staff encouraged the development of once yearly formal employee evaluation, to include both written and verbal feedback. No money has been budgeted in FY13 for costs of administrative employee travel to trainings, except for the city manager. The new secondary water operator is not certified, and will require training and certification. A small travel cost line item is included in the water utility budget for the utility operator to attend training.

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
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 meets twice a month, and has many experienced council members. The council is adequately involved in discussion and shared decision making related to utility management. The council has not enforced collections policies as defined in the community's utility ordinance. The city manager serves as utility manager, with regular input from the public works manager, who is the primary water operator. The public works manager reports a good working relationship, with ample communication regarding water and wastewater utility function. The city manager transmits utility information and issues to the city council. The bookkeeper handles utility finances, and is well-qualified and organized. The city manager has purchased a laptop for the city bookkeeper to continue work at home while on upcoming maternity leave. The city clerk is well trained, with regular attendance at the Alaska Association of Municipal Clerks' annual conference. The city clerk has accomplished a massive organization of retained municipal records, filing them in boxes by year and topic, and storing boxes on risers to prevent potential water damage. The primary water utility operator has received certification as Level 1 Provisional in both Water Treatment and Water Distribution, with certification expiring in December 2013; CEU requirements for renewal are not yet met. The new secondary water operator is not certified, and will require training and certification. Neither operator is certified in Wastewater Treatment or Distribution. The introduction of a new water filtration facility will require technical orientation; the water operator is comfortable asking for guidance and training from the assigned Remote Maintenance Worker (RMW). RUBA staff encourages city staff to provide support of the secondary water operator's training and certification. In case of unavailability of either operator, the city clerk holds a Provisional Water Treatment certification. The city complies with the Open Meetings Act for all meetings, posting notice five days prior on the city website, on the board at the city office, and at the post office.

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.
No The utility maintains an inventory control list.
No The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The utility does not hold designated or documented safety meetings. Utility workers report informal discussions of safety issues; RUBA staff encouraged them to formalize and record these meetings. Recent telephonic contact indicates that the public works manager has initiated regular safety meetings; a safety manual has not yet been submitted. There have been no major outages of the utility due to managerial errors. The water operator was not able to provide RUBA staff with an inventory control list or a critical spare parts list. With the upcoming construction of the new water treatment plant, a critical spare parts list and recommended preventive maintenance plan will be provided to the community by Village Safe Water. Guidance and mentorship in the operation of the new water treatment system will be ongoing through the Remote Maintenance Worker program. The community is not listed on the October 2012 Significant Non-Compiler (SNC) list of water quality violations.