Quarterly Report: 2013, July - September (Q1), Hydaburg

Danielle Lindoff  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
First Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Hydaburg 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Hydaburg is located on the southwest coast of Prince of Wales Island, 45 air miles northwest of Ketchikan. It is connected by paved road to several other cities on the island. Water is derived from the Hydaburg River, treated, and piped throughout the community. Funds have been requested to construct a new dam to increase the water supply. Piped gravity wastewater is treated at a secondary treatment plant with an 800-foot outfall to Sukkwaw Strait. More than 95 percent of homes in Hydaburg are plumbed. The city operates a Class 2 water treatment system, a Class 1 water distribution system, and a Class 1 wastewater collection system. These system classifications are determined by the State of Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Water based on the type of components found in the treatment plant and the number of connections served by the water distribution and wastewater collection systems. Alaska Power and Telephone Co., based in Skagway, owns and operates diesel power systems in Hydaburg and Craig, which provide electricity to many Prince of Wales Island communities. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On September 18, 2012, RUBA staff met with Hydaburg city staff to complete a RUBA Assessment of Management as requested by the city administrator. There are some current staffing issues at Hydaburg, as their administrator has submitted his resignation effective October 1, 2012, and the city clerk and city treasurer are both new to their positions. The current staff has shown a relentless commitment to meet all indicators outlined in the RUBA assessment. They continue to work toward improvements on all areas that were not meeting the indicators previously. RUBA staff assisted the treasurer with reconciliation efforts, as well as tax reporting questions. The utility staff has been putting forth extra effort to increase their collections. Staff has been working with customers by offering to take partial payments when residents are unable to pay in full. They have found that people do not fear their phone calls with this approach, and have actually seen an increase in collections by their willingness to work with their customers. Additionally, they have also begun to enforce their shut-off policy and have been shutting off water services to some customers due to non-payment and non-cooperation. There are still a number of issues with the city's QuickBooks file which need to be addressed. However, RUBA staff has agreed to assist the treasurer as needed and will also be requesting the assistance of Turnagain Press QuickBooks contractors once the RUBA agreement has been signed. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will be traveling to Hydaburg with the QuickBooks contractor, Turnagain Press, on October 29, 2012. The purpose of this trip will be to help the staff fix the accounting software and to customize it to help them properly amend their budget so that they can meet more essential and sustainable indicators in the RUBA management assessment. RUBA staff will continue to provide support to the city council as well as the utility staff. The council will be presented with the RUBA agreement by resolution at the next council meeting.
Essential Indicators:
20 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
20 of 27
Total Score:
40 of 53


Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
Yes Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
Hydaburg recently changed their municipal code to follow their practice of operating in a state fiscal year from July 1 through June 30. This change was completed in August and adopted by ordinance 13-03 with the help of the RUBA staff. The City of Hydaburg adopted their FY13 budget by non-code ordinance on June 26, 2012. The budget is divided into separate funds with each fund listing anticipated revenues and expenses. The funds include a general fund, a capital project fund, a harbor deferred maintenance fund, a water sewer upgrade fund, a water-sewer-garbage fund, and a harbor and docks fund. While each fund's budget compares proposed income and expense amounts to the previous year's adopted figures, they do not include comparative statements of actual expenditures and revenues for the preceding fiscal year as recommended by RUBA staff and as required by Hydaburg Municipal Code. Additionally, the adopted budget does not include proposed transfers from other fund sources for any of the account funds, thus making it hard to follow how the individual departments will be funded. The FY13 Water, Sewer, and Garbage fund budget anticipates $121,540 in income from monthly user fees. Anticipated expenses, however, total $327,180. It does not show the difference between the anticipated incomes versus the expenditures, nor does it show any money from other fund balances being transferred in to cover the net loss of over $200,000. Further, this net loss of over $200,000 does not take into consideration the beginning negative fund balance from FY12 of over $163,000. While collection rates of the utilities have increased over the past six months, the council is considering increasing customer rates for the services provided. RUBA staff assisted the community with a rate study in 2011. The utility fund budget does list most costs associated with sanitation services in Hydaburg. Line items for the primary operator's salary and benefits, repairs and maintenance, travel, water treatment and testing supplies, emergency parts, vehicle gas, electricity, telephone, and various other expenses are all included. However, the city also employs a second, part-time operator whose salary and benefits are not budgeted for in the utility fund. It is not clear whether this salary is accounted for in other departments such as Public Works or Sewer and Garbage. The city council has held three meetings since the start of the fiscal year. It does not appear that monthly financial reports are provided to the council members in the meeting packet. Financial statements generally include a balance sheet and a profit and loss report which has been compared to the budget. Year-to-date figures cannot be accurately compared to what has been budgeted until the budget is amended to project realistic numbers based on previous years' actuals, and projections based on realistic estimates. However, the mayor, city administrator, public works foreman,treasurer, and clerk all routinely provide both written and verbal reports on operational and financial issues concerning the water, wastewater, and garbage utilities. The city is current on its electric bills. The city has two 275-gallon fuel tanks for heating fuel which are located at city hall and the water treatment plant. Funds have been allocated in the budget to purchase heating fuel from Petro Marine every one to three months. While the city is adopting budget amendment ordinances properly, the budget is still not balanced. The bookkeeper was hired in mid 2012, and began her official duties as the treasurer in August. Prior to that, her position was vacant for almost six months. The city clerk was also recently appointed to her position in August, and began working for the City of Hydaburg this summer. Both of these employees are dedicated and motivated and are definite assets to the administrative staff in Hydaburg.

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
No 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
The treasurer and city clerk have been working very hard to increase the collection rate for the City of Hydaburg. Billing statements are processed and mailed every month. The utility administrative staff has begun reaching out to customers, showing them their willingness to accept partial payments if need be. As a result, they have begun to see an increase in payments of all kinds over the last three months. This might also be a result of the city public works staff shutting off the resident's water service for excessive non-payment. The treasurer and city clerk use QuickBooks software to track all accounts payable and receivables as well as to process payroll. The chart of accounts does not match all of the line items in the budget, and should be corrected or revised when the budget is revisited. The payroll is accurately computed and employees are paid correctly. The accounts receivable system is also working correctly. Monthly bank reconciliations have not been accurately completed in over a year, and possibly up to 24 months. In the last three years, 13 different people have held the position of clerk/treasurer for Hydaburg. Current administrative staff members are remarkably skilled and the city should soon see an improvement to the administrative functions.

Tax Problems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility has a system to accurately calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities.
No 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 City of Hydaburg uses QuickBooks Pro to calculate and track payroll liabilities and makes electronic payments using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). While the QuickBooks software has the enhanced payroll features, the system was set up by previous personnel and has many flaws. It is not accurately set up to carry out certain functions of the payroll reporting requirements. The Internal Revenue Service's Taxpayer Advocacy Office has confirmed that Hydaburg is behind in filing its federal 941 payroll tax reports, but affirms that they are current in federal tax deposits and that the IRS has no liens against the city. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development could not grant tax clearance to the City of Hydaburg as of September 12, 2012 and after an examination of accounting records, it is clear that the payments were being mailed to the state, but, the required quarterly reports were not being completed.

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
Coverage for workers compensation was confirmed for the period of July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. Coverage remains with the Alaska National Insurance Company. There is proof of current coverage posted at the city offices, the water treatment plant and the harbormaster's office. Coverages are within statutory guidelines and include work related accidents as well as occupational diseases. The city's personnel policy includes a hiring procedure and a probationary period for new employees. They recently updated all of the position descriptions which now accurately outline the duties that are required for each position. Records relating to employees are kept in a personnel file. The city provides training opportunities when outside sources of training funds are available. Both the city clerk and the treasurer completed the 32-hour RUBA 'Clerks Management for Rural Utilities' training in Anchorage September 10-14. Additionally, the city clerk attended the QuickBooks Power User Level One course sponsored by RUBA on September 24-28. The clerk will be filling in for the treasurer this winter. The city has shown support for other utility staff who may seek other necessary training opportunities, by appropriating adequate funds for staff travel in the FY13 budget.

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 Hydaburg owns and operates the community's water and wastewater utilities and the city council is the governing body of the utility. The council meets monthly and is currently reviewing consumer rates for the utility service, and considering a rate increase based on the rate study that was completed by RUBA staff in 2011. The council minutes indicate that they are generally engaged in decision-making on behalf of the utility service. The city's FY13 budget ordinance was adopted by the council on time. The city complies with Alaska's Open Meetings Act by posting meeting notices at least five days in advance in three public places. All ordinances necessary to own and operate the utility services have been adopted. Title 13 of the Hydaburg Municipal code establishes the policies and procedures for the operation and maintenance of the community water supply system. The city administrator oversees the utility. He is adequately trained in the administration and management of the utility. Although the treasurer and clerk are both relatively new to their positions, they are both highly competent and well trained. Hydaburg's water operators travel to and participate in relevant water treatment and distribution trainings as needed and receive continual on-site training from a remote maintenance worker (RMW).

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.
Yes 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.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The City of Hydaburg has one full-time operator and one part-time operator. The full-time operator is certified by the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) with a Level 1 Water Treatment endorsement expiring 12/31/2012 and a Level 1 Water Distribution endorsement expiring 12/31/2012. He has already obtained the requisite Continued Education Units (CEUs). The part-time operator is not yet certified. Hydaburg's water utility is listed on the EPA's July 2012 Significant Non-Compliance (SNC) list for elevated levels of disinfectant by-products (DBPs), though the operators continue to work with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) to improve filter media and system underdrains. The utility completed and distributed its last CCR as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act for the year ending December 31, 2011. The utility has a critical spare parts list but does not maintain an inventory control list. The administrator reports that the utility maintains a sufficient level of supplies and tools, and works in partnership with other communities on Prince of Wales to maintain a system that enables the communities to borrow and replace critical parts from each others' inventories. The inventory list has become an issue, as the storage facility that is used to store the parts has been leased to another entity and some parts are not currently locatable.