Quarterly Report: 2007, July - September (Q1), Gambell

Josephine Bahnke  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Gambell 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water is derived from a shallow aquifer at the base of Sivuokuk Mountain, and is treated and stored in three storage tanks. 121 homes and 13 public and commercial buildings including the school and washeteria are now connected to the piped water and sewer system. Forty three homes in the original townsite still haul water and honeybuckets. A feasibility study is complete. A new water source and additional water storage tanks are needed to ensure no shortages will occur. Significant infrastructure growth is proposed over the next 5 years. The first phase of improvements upgraded the existing infrastructure, including water treatment, lift station upgrades, and a 2.2 million gallon water storage tank. The second phase will be to develop a well field 2 miles outside of town at the south end of Troutman Lake, and construct a summer only raw water transmission line. The third phase will be water and sewer service to Old Town (approximately 43 service connections). Ultimately, there will be 174 residential services. New service connections to 10 new HUD houses are planned for 2006, despite the fact that the aquifer is already being over pumped and will not support the additional development. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff travelled to Gambell on July 12, 2006 to assist the City Clerk with their FY07 budget and IRS issues. A second trip was made on September 12-14, 2006 to train the new Utility Clerk with accounts receivable, bank deposits, bank reconciliations, and other financial management duties. Nome RUBA staff participated with a group of Technical Assistance Providers consisting of various State and Federal agencies seeking to assist the Gambell Water System meet regulatory requirements and RUBA essential capacity indicators. At RUBA's advice, water and sewer service rates were increased in accordance with their business plan. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff will travel to Gambell this quarter to provide on-site assistance to City and Utility staff per the RUBA workplan. Specifically, the Mayor has requested that RUBA staff review various sections of the City Code of Ordinance with the City Council. Technical assistance will be provided via e-mail, fax, and telephone. RUBA staff will also continue participation with the Technical Assistance Providers Group via teleconference.
Essential Indicators:
23 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
19 of 26
Total Score:
42 of 52


Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.
No 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
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 Common Council adopted their FY 07 budget ordinance on July 3, 2006. Upon review, RUBA staff discovered that it was neither balanced nor realistic. Proposed amendments and summary sheets were reviewed with the Mayor and completed by RUBA staff for Council review. At the date of this report, the amendments have not been adopted by the City Council. In the past, Monthly financial reports were prepared by the Utility Clerk and submitted to the Utility Board. With recent turnover in the Utility Clerk position, training was provided to the new Clerk on monthly financial reporting, but none have been received by the Nome RUBA office. During RUBA's September visit, a financial picture of the utility was created by RUBA by calculating collection rates, revenues, expenditures, and aged payables that the old Utility clerk had not paid for the last year. At the advise of RUBA, the Council has implemented the appropriate rate adjustments for residents, commercial, and metered customers. Hopefully, this will allow them to get caught up with outstanding bills and assist in the establishment of a Repair and Replacement fund to cover routine and unexpected maintenance costs.

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 utility has an adopted collection policy, and has been following it more consistently. At the time of this report, the collection rate is at 93%. The utility and City clerk use QuickBooks Pro for payroll, accounts receivable, and billing. Assistance with bank reconciliations and accounts payable was provided this quarter for the last three months. A NEBS cash receipt system is utilized for accounts receivable and Economic Register for tracking expenditures.

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
Gambell Water and Sewer has set up an installment agreement which was necessary since taxes weren't paid for quarters in 2004 and 2005. The Utility should have their past obligations paid by next quarter. During the July site visit, RUBA staff and City Clerk contacted the IRS to get the City's EIN arrearage under control. According to the records, the City has not made regular deposits in the past year. RUBA staff recommended that the City get current with 2nd quarter 2006 deposits and start making regular deposits. If this is not possible, cutbacks on payroll must be made. The City has prioritized their Municipal Energy Assistance grant funding to get current with IRS. Once they are current, a repayment agreement can be negotiated. Since the City of Gambell is the grantee to all water and sewer projects, this issue will require immediate attention in order for VSW to proceed with their project.

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.
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
Gambell Water and Sewer is insured by the AML/JIA for FY 07 and are in good standing. The Utility Board passed a resolution and signed a payment contract with AML/JIA to make monthly payments, but the Council plans to pay a bulk of the bill with their Municipal Energy Assistance grant. RUBA staff has prioritized personnel issues in Gambell's workplan. This will include reviewing their personnel policy, job descriptions, and implementing a more effective personnel system.

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.
No 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 of Gambell is the owner of the utility. Decision making authority and enforcement of utility policy has alternated from the Utility Board to the City Council. The utility does not have a manager. The current organizational chart for the utility does not show who the operators and clerk report to. In the past, it has been the Mayor, City Administrator, and Utility Board Chairman.

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.
No The utility has a safety manual and holds safety meetings.
No 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
VSW, through contract with CRW, is moving ahead with a $340,000 water treatment upgrade and design for a new $3.4 million water tank. In addition to working on financial issues this quarter, RUBA staff also participated in the Sanitation Survey conducted by Alaska Rural Water Association (ARWA) and Norton Sound Health Corporation staff. At the time of this report, a Consumer Confidence Report has been completed with the assistance of ARWA and will be distributed next regular billing cycle.