Quarterly Report: 2009, July - September (Q1), Kaltag

Jeremy Johnson  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Kaltag 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Kaltag operates the piped water and sewer system. The City Council is the policy making body for the utility. The water/sewer system is approximately 30 years old. The City is upgrading the system as part of a phased project, with funding from Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. This past summer, the city worked on Phase 2 of the project: activities included construction of a new backup well and sewer main extensions; sewer manhole replacements; replacement of old pipes; installation of new valves, and installation of several new service connections. Future work will include replacement of old water mains and service extensions, replacement of old service connections, and extension of the water main.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
This quarter, 3rd qtr 2008, has been quiet for communicaiton between RUBA and Kaltag. According to the city clerk the community worked on the ANTHC water/sewer project by laying new lines and connecting three business to the system. The businesses are not yet plumbed and are not connected to the system. Plumbing the home/business is the customer's responsibility. It was a busy season for harvesting and there was a commercial fishing opening and Kaltag was able to use the fish processing plant, this is good news on many levels, on of which is that the plant uses lots of water.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
The city requested assistance in changing the election process from 40% to a simple majority. Staff will work with the city clerk on that issue.
Essential Indicators:
26 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
15 of 27
Total Score:
41 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.
No YTD expenditures are at a level equal to or below those budgeted.
Yes A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
There has not been any financial discussions between the community and RUBA during the 3rd quarter 08. The city budget, on paper, is balanced and projects a net income of $75,533.60 (expenses $394,292.84 and revenue $496,826.44). The water utility is budgeted for a net income of $496 and the washeteria is budgeted for a net income of $652. The utility budget revenue is based on 100% of customers making payments while the reality is that this fiscal year 72% of customers are making payments (FY07 83% of customers made payments); the utility is anticipated to have a shortfall. The water utility projected a budget revenue of $51,150; RUBA staff can not determine how this is possible based on available data-see attachment for more in-depth analysis. The city clerk indicated that, historically, the shortfall is covered from the city's investment savings accounts. Residential customer bills are a flat monthly rate of $62.50, combined with 72% payment results in the utility not receiving revenues sufficient to cover operating expenses. During regularly scheduled city council meeting, council members are provided with a financial report and the city clerk attends to provide a verbal narrative and answer questions. The city budget is manual and not entered into QuickBooks but copies of the budget and a monthly, running total, by class expense report is maintained Most recent copies of both fuel and electricity bills indicate that the city is current with payment. Fuel is purchased from the local distributor and stored in the city's bulk storage tanks while electricity is provided by Alaska Village Electricity Co-op.

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
There has not been any accounting discussions between the community and RUBA during the 3rd quarter 08. The city uses a combination of computer and manual accounting. City ordinances outline the process the utility will follow for delinquent accounts but does not include enforcement verbiage on monthly bills with past due amounts owed. RUBA staff found some signed repayment agreements and notice to disconnect. A comparison of the delinquent amount on the disconnect notice and the A/R Aging Summary report shows that some customers do pay their past due bills. According to the city clerk, fall is the time of year when enforcement action is increased-dates on disconnect and repayment agreements support this. Many residents are seasonally employed, by the city (summer construction projects), fishing, and forest fire fighters. At the end of the summer employment season, disconnections, which, in many cases, requires digging up water lines prior to winter ground freeze up spurs residents to bring current past due amounts. The accounting process is organized and tailored to fit the clerk's needs. Bills are mailed monthly and accounts payable are paid monthly; RUBA staff did not find any delinquent A/P bills. Likewise, the payroll system accurately calculates payroll (QuickBooks is used for this process) and payroll taxes are correct. The budget chart of accounts is straight forward, easy to comprehend, and provides detail necessary for the level of accounting. City purchases are approved via purchase orders that are authorized by the mayor. Large items are budged for on an annual base and approved of by the city council. Petty cash is used for small, in town purchases; a register is maintained for the petty cash.

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 IRS deems the City of Kaltag compliant at this time. The Department of Labor says that all reports are on file and they have a small credit.

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.
No 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
A new workers compensation policy is in effect until July 1, 2009. A personnel policy is in effect of which RUBA staff has a copy. The personnel policy is authorized in Kaltag City Ordinance Title VIII, Chapter 75 and the hiring process is Title VIII, Chapter 75, section 30. The city currently has job descriptions but indicated a desire to update and create new descriptions. Evaluations do not follow a prescribed format, RUBA staff was unable to locate an evaluation form and can not determine if evaluations are done or if it relates to the duties of the position. City staff indicated that evaluations are done verbally and, it appears, they are done when counseling an employee who receives a written warning. The city takes a holistic approach with employees; the mayor and clerk will address negative employee behavior and find solutions to work with the employee instead of relying strictly on punitive measures. A written evaluation form, which evaluates based on the position duties and responsibilities should be created. This, combined with the current format, will provide for a stronger tool to evaluate employees. Personnel folders contain timesheets, pay stubs, and letter of acceptance but lack the application and I-9. According to the city clerk, only Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium has I-9 forms. While RUBA staff was working in the city office, two new employees were provided orientation and filled out W-4 forms but were not provided the federally required I-9 forms. The personnel folders lack required documents (job applications, I-9, evaluations).

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
No 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
City ordinance established, and provide the authority, for the city to own and operate the water facility. The city council is the policy making body for the water utility; council members are also assigned supervisory positions over the various city departments. For example, Councilwoman Madros is the supervisor for the water plant operator and Councilwoman Saunders is the supervisor for the washeteria attendant. RUBA staff saw, but did not take a copy, of employee disciplinary notices. The city staff and council members are active in addressing incorrect employee behavior and working on solutions to personnel issues above termination. The city clerk is adequate; she has been employed as an office aide by the city since 1986 and in 1992, she became the city clerk. The mayor is also adequate. She has a bachelors and masters degree from UAF and has been the mayor for many years. The water operator has current certification commensurate to the level of operations. Recently, a back up operator was hired and attended certification classes at the time of the onsite assessment, his test results had not been received. An organizational chart could not be found and RUBA staff offered to assist in the creation of an organizational chart. Upon the adoption and incorporation of the chart into the personnel handbook, the indicator can be changed.

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.
No The utility maintains an inventory control list.
No The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
As stated in the previous section, the current water operator is certified and the back up operator is in the process of becoming certified. The water plant does not have a safety manual or hold meetings. To satisfy this criterion RUBA staff suggests contacting the Remote Maintenance Worker to determine what type of safety agenda should be developed. Additionally, AML/JIA has monthly telephonic safety meetings meeting that staff could attend. The operator provides reports to city staff and monthly verbal reports are given at city council meetings, although, at the city council meeting held March 11, 2008 (for which RUBA staff has a copy of the meeting minutes) the operator was not available. Communication between the operator and city staff is on a daily basis as observed by RUBA during the two-day assessment. The utility is currently on the SNC list for surface water treatment violation and could return to compliance by September 2008--the report was last updated in August. The utility does not have an inventory or critical spare parts list. It is suggested contacting the Remote Maintenance Worker for assistance in creating a list.