Quarterly Report: 2009, April - June (Q4), Teller

Leroy Seppilu  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Teller 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Teller does not have a water/sewer utility. Water is hauled from the Gold Run River (20 miles away) by the City water truck, and delivered to home storage tanks, during the summer. In the winter, treated water is delivered from a large storage tank at the washeteria, or melt ice is used from area creeks. A few residents use their own ATV's or snowmachines to haul water. The school operates its own sewer system. Sixty-seven residents and 15 businesses use honeybuckets, which are hauled by the City. A few homes and facilities have septic tanks.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
At the request of the community members and the city, tribal councils, Nome RUBA staff made two trips to the community to attend a community meeting to discuss the on-going sanitation problems. Trash and honey-bucket containers had not been picked up by the city because the city had run out of diesel and its truck hauler had broken down. The citizens had been concerned that when spring break-up occurs, that the honey-buckets containers would leak and cause health problems, especially to children. None of the three city council members attended the meeting. RUBA staff discussed options in details with the Teller Traditional Council and Mary's Igloo Traditional Council members and fielded questions and complaints from the public. The city had just lost its road contract  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will be providing telephonic assistance or make on-site visits as needed. Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Village Safe Water (VSW) engineer and RUBA staff may travel to the community in July, 2009, to try to meet with the city council and public to discuss the on-going sanitation project.
Essential Indicators:
2 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
5 of 27
Total Score:
7 of 54


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.
No The utility is current in paying all water/wastewater electric bills.
No 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.
No A monthly manager's report is prepared.
No Budget amendments are completed and adopted as necessary.
Finances Comments
The last RUBA staff trained previous city clerk how to make comprehensive monthly financial reports two years ago. The last monthly financial report was made between 1 1/2 to 2 years ago. The city cannot afford to purchase fuel to heat the city office. A telephone company called, while I was there, asking the city to pay its past due telephone bill. The washeteria is heated with propane fuel and the electricity is connected through the school.

Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No The utility has adopted a collection policy and actively follows it.
No The utility bills customers on a regular basis.
No An accounts receivable system is in place which tracks customers and reports past due accounts and amounts.
No An accounts payable system is in place.
No The payroll system correctly calculates payroll and keeps records.
No A cash receipt system is in place that records incoming money and how it was spent.
No 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.
No 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
Although one of the council members is actively trying to collect on some of the past dues owed to the city, there has not been any success to have them paid. Some are personal checks issued to the city by residential customers for trash/honey-bucket haul utility services rendered in the past. Although RUBA staff did not inquire about it, some of the utility customers have stated that they did not wish to pay at this time because they do not know what will happen to the payment for the utility bill.

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.
No The utility is current on making tax deposits.
No 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 has not made any effort to make the quarterly tax reports (both IRS and ESC reports) and make payments with the past due tax liabilities. The city also has not made any efforts to contact IRS or Ak. Dept. of Labor's Employment Security Div. to set up payment plans.

Personnel System

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
No The utility provides training opportunities to staff as needed and available.
Personnel System Comments
The city is still having a very hard time retaining city clerks because it does not have money in its bank account to pay for the position and other positions. The city's files are in complete diarray. There are boxes filled with paper every where in the city office filled with correspondences, old catalogs, envelops, etc. It is very difficult to find anything

Organizational Management

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
No 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.
No 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.
No The policy making body meets as required.
No The utility complies with the open meeting act for all meetings.
Organizational Management Comments
The current city council is down to three members and they have finally posted notice for one vacant council seat to fill per Title 29 appointment requirements at the urging of RUBA staff. The council acts as the utility board. Once the appointment is made, the council can appoint three of the vacant council seats. The city clerk position is currently vacant despite efforts by the city council to fill it. RUBA stafff tried to provide some basic bookkeeping to the alternate city clerk but she told RUBA staff that he should go home in the evening, after the second day of a three-day trip. She does not have the authority to tell anyone that she does not need the training. From RUBA staff's obersvations and interviews, she has stated she only knows how to issue checks. Some people have complained that when they tried to attend city council meetings, they were told to leave. RUBA staff reminded the city council that State law requires all council meetings to be public and that those attending from the public, even to just listen in, should not be told to leave.

Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes The utility operator(s) are actively working towards necessary certification.
No 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.
No 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.
No The utility has completed and distributed its "Consumer Confidence Report".
Yes 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
Maintenance of the washeteria/water treatment plant is provided by Bering Strait School District. The school principal closed the watering point this spring because of tank was very low with treated water. The residents have had to obtain water from the outlying creeks and springs.