Quarterly Report: 2010, January - March (Q3), Alakanuk

Ken Berlin  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Alakanuk 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Alakanuk operates the piped water and sewer system, the central watering point, flush tank and haul system, and washeteria/sauna service. The city council is the policy making body for the utility. There are 135 utility customers hooked up to the system. Water is derived from the slough, treated, stored in a tank, and piped to most of the community. New facilities include a water treatment plant, heated 300,000-gallon water storage tank, vacuum sewage plant, sewage lagoon, arctic piping and household plumbing. The new subdivision has been completed with all homes connected to the piped system.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Bethel RUBA staff continue to offer assistance to Alakanuk staff in drafting and adopting a balanced realistic budget. The budget and monthly finance reports are not being completed; both documents are required to pass a RUBA management assessment and be able to access sanitation grant funds. In February 2010, Bethel RUBA staff received a letter with a notice of cancellation from the insurance broker who provided workers compensation insurance coverage for the City of Alakanuk. Staff contacted the city administrator and offered to assist the city in obtaining new coverage. The administrator contacted the insurance broker and submitted a check to get their insurance coverage back in order. The new insurance coverage was later confirmed by the broker. In January, the city clerk called requesting assistance with an issue involving city staff and a local resident. The administrator was on travel status and unavailable for comment. After consulting with the Anchorage RUBA central office, RUBA informed the city clerk that the issue has to be treated as a confidential matter and the immediate supervisor should handle the issue. RUBA offered to assist the city in drafting personnel policies that would include evaulations, discipline, and grievance steps. Bethel RUBA staff continues to send reminders to the city administrator to send documentation for the RUBA assessment file. The city administrator explained they have been having internet and phone problems. The fax machine is also working intermitently. It was agreed that the documents would be mailed as they are required to ensure continued funding for sanitation construction projects in the community. The administrator explained that he was waiting for the critical spare parts list from the water operator.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will monitor the utility and provide assistance when requested.
Essential Indicators:
24 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
21 of 27
Total Score:
45 of 54


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.
No 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
A budget was adopted and passed for FY10 (July 1 thru June 30). The budget listed the community revenue sharing funds in two places and will require an amendment. The city failed to file the monthly finance reports required as an essential management indicator. The administrator reported that nine thousand gallons of fuel was ordered and received in September 2009 and it is still expected to be sufficient for winter needs. Alakanuk has money budgeted for fuel purchase if additional fuel is necessary. The City Administrator provides verbal reports to the council and these are recorded in monthly meeting minutes.

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 city utility ordinance was effective as of March 2008 and includes a collection policy. The collection policy identifies a grace period of 45 days for past due utility bills. RUBA has recommended adjusting the grace period to 30 days. The city adminsitrator contacted RUBA with questions regarding how QuickBooks processes payroll tax liabilities. He reported that due to QuickBooks taking two days to deposit payroll into employee accounts, timesheets are turned in two or three days early with time included to the end of the pay period. This time is not always worked yet recorded as worked. The administrator questioned the time of acceptance of time sheets and check issuance. Assistance was provided by RUBA. The name, phone number, and available hours for contact were also provided for the RUBA sponsored QuickBooks Help Line contractor.

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
Internal Revenue Service deemed the city to be compliant with federal tax requirements. Alaska State Department of Labor also deemed the city compliant at this time. There are no reported tax liens in the December 2009 Lien Watch report.

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
Alakanuk is covered for workers compensation insurance through Umialik Insurance Co. effective to October 2010. Job openings are posted in at least three public places. The probationary period is three months from the date of appointment. The City Administrator provides on the job training for new employees and other training is given if funding is available. City staff took advantage of two RUBA sponsored trainings recently. The new city clerk/treasurer attended the QuickBooks accounting course offered in Anchorage. She is quickly adapting to her position and able to use the skills learned to maintain the city accounting functions. Shortly after, the city administrator and the city clerk attended the RUBA sponsored 32-hour course 'Utility Clerk Management' course in Anchorage. City staff participated fully in both classes and were awarded airfare and lodging reimbursement from the RUBA training fund. Upon return to the community, the clerk assumed more of the responsibilities for meetings and ordinances using the skills learned during class.

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 of Alakanuk provides water/wastewater services and operates a washeteria. The washeteria includes showers and saunas. The city held elections and certified a new council who are reviewing and monitoring utility policies. The administrator has been in his position for over two years and has received grantwriting training, QuickBooks training, and attended three RUBA utility management trainings. His personal goal is to attend all eight of the management courses and become a certified utility manager. The city has a city clerk/treaurer who is now responsible for monthly billings and collections. She is new to the position but has previous financial managment experience and has completed RUBA sponsored QuickBooks for Beginners.

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.
Yes The utility maintains an inventory control list.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
Alakanuk Water System is on the significant non-compliance list for Surface Water Treatment Rule and Stage 1 violations. The last violation in February 2010 was a lack of DS Cl Residual reporting due to missed monthly bacti sampling. There is no known hardwear problem. Alakanuk water treatment system is currently a class 2 and the wastewater treatment system is class 1. They have one operator, Kevin Joseph, who is certified as a water operator 1 and wastewater operator 1. He continues to attend training when possible.