Quarterly Report: 2012, July - September (Q1), Diomede

Iura Leahu  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Diomede 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Diomede and Diomede Joint Utilities are responsible for the management of a seasonal washeteria serviced by a septic system and seepage pit, water treatment plant and 434,000-gallon steel water storage tank/watering point. The water tank is fed by water drawn from a mountain spring that is then filtered and chlorinated at the water treatment plant prior to being stored in the tank. The tank capacity is usually insufficient in the spring each year and residents are forced to melt snow and ice for drinking water. All homes use honey buckets, the waste of which is dumped on the beach in the summer and on pack ice in the winter. The local clinic is connected to the washeteria septic system. The proposed improvements will upgrade the water treatment plant and complete the construction of a new water storage tank next to the school. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On September 22, 2011, Nome RUBA staff traveled to the City of Diomede to perform an onsite RUBA assessment of management capacities for Diomede Joint Utilities (DJU). The prior utility manager turned in his resignation in August 2011. With no personnel available to work with, Nome RUBA staff was not able to complete the assessment. RUBA staff urged the city council to hire an emergency interim utility manager to assure continuity in the operation and management of DJU. On August 31, fuel has been received and no shortage is anticipated. The city budget for the FY12 has not been yet adopted. The city has to meet the November 1st deadline in order to secure state funding. Without substantial subsidies, DJU will not be able to operate. Historically, the city council used State of Alaska Community Revenue Sharing grants to subsidize its utilities. During the stay, Nome RUBA staff assisted the city in preparing the budget and introduced it to the city council on September 26th. The city council set October 10th for the public hearing on the appropriation ordinance. In September 2011, CRW Engineering Group, LLC prepared a Business Plan for Water Storage Tank Improvements. The City of Diomede, with funding and technical assistance through the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), plans to construct an additional 350,000 gallon treated water storage tank. The tank will provide additional water storage throughout the winter and spring so that the community does not run out of water.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff will continue to provide assistance to the city council and utility manager. RUBA staff plans to travel to the City of Diomede as soon as Bering Air airline will fly passengers to the island. The scope of the travel is to complete an onsite RUBA assessment and conduct a work session on elected officials and RUBA requirements.
Essential Indicators:
20 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
17 of 27
Total Score:
37 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.
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.
No A monthly manager's report is prepared.
Yes Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The City of Diomede has not adopted the FY12 budget. The prior utility manager prepared the utility budget and submitted it to the city council in May 2011. All revenues and expenses are included in the water and wastewater budget. According to the budget, the utility projected $21,000 in revenues and $43,337 in expenditures for this fiscal year. The deficit is $22,337, which is over fifty percent (50%) and unsustainable over a long-term. Other water and wastewater related utilities, such as the washeteria, on the other hand, projected to receive $46,000 in revenues and $44,765 in expenditures, a loadable deficit free budget. Part of this quarter, the prior utility manager prepared and submitted monthly financial reports to the city council. Since his resignation in August 2011, such reports have not been prepared because the utility does not have a qualified utility manager. As of August 2011, the electric bills were paid. On August 31, Diomede Joint Utilities was delivered a year's adequate fuel supply. According to the mayor, the city council will subsidize the utility budget as it has done in the past by using State of Alaska Community Benefit Sharing and Norton Sound Community Benefit grants. According to the utility operator, the city office appropriates funds if the utility needs to cover repair and replacement costs. However, the current budget does not include a line item for such costs. Since the resignation of the utility manager, no year to date financial statements and monthly manager's reports have been prepared.

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
Currently, there is no utility manager or utility clerk to bill customers. The prior utility manager used QuickBooks to keep track of accounts receivable, payable and payroll records of all of Diomete Joint Utilities financial records. Financial reports used to be done using Excel spreadsheets. They were complete and comprehensive.

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
Diomede Joint Utilities (DJU) uses its own Employer Identification Number (EIN) for IRS and State's Employment Security Division deposits and reports. On September 30, 2011, the Division of Employment Security Tax reported that DJU is currently compliant with filing Quarterly Contribution Reports and making deposits. However, DJU did not submit a quarterly tax report for the second quarter in 2010 and the third and fourth quarter in 2009. On September 30, 2011, the Internal Revenue Service's taxpayer Advocacy Office confirmed that DJU is current in the federal tax reports and filings and the IRS has no liens against the utility.

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
Worker's compensation insurance is provided by the Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association. The Division of Worker's Compensation website confirmed that the policy is in effect. The utility uses the city's personnel policies. All utility personnel are hired by the city council and supervised by the utility manager.

Organizational Management

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The entity that owns the utility is known; the entity that will operate the utility is set.
No The policy making body is active in policy making of the utility.
No The policy making body enforces utility policy.
No 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.
No The policy making body meets as required.
Yes The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
Chapter 36 of the Diomede Code of Ordinances outlines the rules and policies of the public utilities. The city council 'reserves unto itself the power and authority of approve or disapprove by ordinance all budgets, rates, and the acquisition or disposal of real property.' Chapter 36 also provides that the Diomede Joint Utilities Board will manage and operate all utilities owned by the City of Diomede. At this time, the city council is the acting board. Due to some city council members being absent, the utility board was not as active as it should have been during the FY11. The city council has had several meetings and has made some progress in tackling the issues related to the city and its utilities. Chapter 36 provides that the board shall appoint a manger of the public utilities. However, as of August 2011, the utility manager of DJU resigned. The city office was not able to hire a replacement and DJU does not have an adequately trained manager and bookkeeper. By ordinance, the manager prepares and manages the utility budget, oversees the water treatment operator, power plant operator, tank farm operator and assistant operators. He also prepares and provides monthly manager and financial reports to the city council.

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.
No 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
The water treatment plant operator attended a utility certification course in Fairbanks in April of 2011. He did not pass the exam but he working towards taking another exam in Nome by the end of this summer. The utility system has been on the Significant Non-Complier list for many years. Due to remoteness, the water system is late in sending out water samples and the water exceeds the Nitrate Maximum Contaminant Level and Arsenic Running Annual Average of Maximum Contaminant Level. Diomede has a small water system, which uses only one treatment chemical used to treat water. The utility provides limited utility services to the community as it is very isolated and hard to reach community.