Quarterly Report: 2010, April - June (Q4), Gambell

Leroy Seppilu  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Gambell 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
Water is derived from a shallow aquifer at the base of Sivuokuk Mountain, and is treated and stored in three storage tanks. One hundred twenty-one homes and 13 public and commercial buildings, including the school and washeteria, are now connected to the piped water and sewer system. Forty three homes in the original townsite still are not connected to the piped system; their residents haul water and use honeybuckets. A feasibility study is complete. A new water source and additional water storage tanks are needed to ensure no shortages will occur. Significant infrastructure growth is proposed over the next 5 years. The first phase of improvements upgraded the existing infrastructure, including water treatment, lift station upgrades, and a 2.2 million gallon water storage tank. The second phase will be to develop a well field 2 miles outside of town at the south end of Troutman Lake, and construct a summer only raw water transmission line. The third phase will be to provide water and wastewater service to Old Town (approximately 43 service connections). Ultimately, there will be 174 service connections.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
Nome RUBA staff, Steve Brock and Leroy Seppilu, travelled to Gambell to perform a RUBA managment assessment on May 5-6. Gambell utilities did not meet five essential indicators. Nome RUBA staff returned to Gambell on May 26-27 at the request of the city to provide assistance with completing a U.S. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant application for funds to match a VSW grant to repair water and wastewater mains that freeze up during the winter. RUBA staff reveiwed the grant requirements and searched city records to find necessary documentation. RUBA staff also discussed fuel and food issues with the mayor and other community members. Mayor Booshu said the assistance provided by the local Native Corporation to lower the cost of fuel was running out and that the store was setting the fuel price at $9.70 per gallon until the barge arrives with new fuel. The concern is that high fuel prices may affect the ability of residents to pay their water and wastewater bills. The trip proved unsuccessful because there was a death in the utility clerk's family and RUBA staff was not able to obtain the necessary information to complete the sanitation grant application. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
The City of Gambell does not meet all of the essential capacity indicators. In order to meet them, the utility must take the following actions: amend the FY10 budget to balance the revenues and expenditures for the water and sewer utility, washeteria and landfill, secure workers compensation coverage, locate the preventative maintenance plan or develop a new one. The rates charged to all customers should be sufficient to cover any unforseen emergencies, such as the incidents with gasoline and grease in the water mains and the increase in water sampling costs. The utility should include funds in the utility budget for parts and labor due to unscheduled events. The total past due receivables are over $18,000, including $10,000 that is past due more than a year. The utility clerk has contacted a collections agency and the utility is expecting to pay the agency about 30% of the past dues collected. This may or may not be effective. Another collection method is to have the utility take the customers to small claims court. Once the judgment is made in favor of the utility, the utility can try to garnish some of the customers Permanent Fund Dividend checks. It may take a while and cost some money, but the utility can get its money back for water and sewer services provided. ' Pay the past due of $7,000 to AML-JIA for workers compensation coverage and renew workers comp. coverage or piggy-back with the City of Gambell with its workers compensation coverage to save on general liability insurance and workers compensation coverage. State law requires employers to have workers compensation coverage for its employees. ' Work with the DECs Village Safe Water engineer or Norton Sound Health Corporations Remote Maintenance Worker Program to set up a preventative maintenance plan for the water and sewer facilities. ' Develop a contingency fund in the utility budget for parts and labor due to unscheduled events.
Essential Indicators:
24 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
19 of 27
Total Score:
43 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.
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
The Gambell City Council passed the water and sewer utility's FY10 budget:expenditures of ($193,750) exceed expected revenues ($188,000) by $5,750. The washeteria's expenditures ($17,700) exceed expected revenues ($8,400) by $9,300. Overall, the combined water/wastewater/washeteria budget has a deficit of $15,050. The Garbage/Landfill budget has zero revenues and expenditures of $12,250. One of the council members RUBA staff talked to said that it was very important for the city to provide washeteria and landfill services. The utility's past due account receivables are $10,000 annually. The utility has contacted a collections agency to collect some of the past due amounts. The collection agency will keep at least 30% of the amounts collected. Currently 110 residential customers are billed $97 a month for water and wastewater services. Six commercial customers pay $185 a month. Sivuqaq Lodge pays $850 a month. The school district pays $0.22 a gallon for treated water. The city uses all of its $100,000 from Norton Sound Economic Development Community Benefits Share Program to purchase heating oil for the washeteria and the water and wastewater utilities use.

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 Gambell Water and Wastewater Department has referred past due accounts to a collections agency. The agency will be paid 30% of the past due amounts collected. QuickBooks Pro is used for billing and for most others aspects of financial management of the utility.

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
The utility uses QuickBooks Pro for payroll, payroll reports and taxes. The city is current on filing federal and state tax reports and tax deposits. The city's Employment Security Contribution (ESC) rate for 2010 is 1.15%. IRS and DOL have deemed Gambell to be compliant at this time.

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.
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
The utility department's workers compensation coverage and general liability insurance has lapsed. The utility's insurer was Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA). The city stated that the lapse in insurance is due to lack of funds to pay for the coverage.

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
The Gambell Utility Board, which was created by the city council through Chapter 36 of the city's code of ordinances, is currently not active and has not met for months. The Gambell City Council, however, is very involved with the utility issues and has utility issues in its regular monthly meeting agenda.

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
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.
No The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The water plant operator is certified at the level necessary to operate and maintain the utility facilities and has several certifications from passing Remote Maintenance Worker training programs. A preventative maintenance plan was unable to be located at this time.