Quarterly Report: 2013, October - December (Q2), McGrath

Jedediah Smith  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of McGrath 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
McGrath operates a piped water system that serves nearly all 178 households; a few homes have individual wells or haul water. The FAA operates its own water system. The majority of residents use individual septic tanks; a limited city wastewater system serves approximately 34 homes. Funds have been requested to expand the piped wastewater system to the 144 houses and businesses currently using septic tanks. McGrath is poised to begin substantial upgrades of its water treatment plant. Design and engineering phases of this project are complete. Erosion control is a critical issue, as the water treatment facility is located next to the river. The cost of moving the facility would triple the costs of the upgrade. The city has applied for funding to complete their erosion control project, ensuring the integrity of the water treatment facility. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
McGrath's RUBA assessment expires in October 2012. On November 21, RUBA staff was notified of a crisis in the McGrath Cap 'n Snow building. It was reported there was a break in the heating system piping and glycol was spewing out. Later the same day an electrial breaker box and a electrical switch box ignited causing damage to the boxes and wiring. The Cap 'n Snow building houses the administrative office, as well as, the water plant. On November 30, RUBA staff contacted the City of McGrath to get an update on the status of the issues within the Cap 'n Snow building. The city clerk reported an official with the Department of Homeland Security has been notified, as well as AMLJIA. The washeteria and shower rooms are being closed and physically locked early and reopened when regular staff come to work the following day due to a unconventional piece of equipment providing water pressure to the Cap n Snow building. Public Works staff is determining what additional pieces of equipment need to be replaced and how to accomplish that. The Public Works staff is once again producing water, however the automatic turbidimeter is broken and staff is testing manually. The level in the storage tank is slowly rising. 
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will continue to work with McGrath city staff as adjustments to the utility ordinance are drafted and developed. New RUBA staff has been hired and will travel to McGrath February 4-5, 2013.
Essential Indicators:
25 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
25 of 27
Total Score:
50 of 54


Essential Indicators
Answer Question
Yes All revenues and expenses for the utility are listed in the utility budget.
Yes 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
Yes 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
Requested financial documents and meeting minutes for this quarter have not yet been received. Indicators marked as 'no' in this category will be adjusted when documentation is confirmed for this quarter. McGrath typically carries all 'yes' markers in the Finance category. This community has very stable employees and a strong and involved city council. McGrath operates on a well designed rate formula, in which all customers pay a base rate for water, with additional usage charged. The water utility expenses are comprehensive, and include categories for repair and maintenance. Electricity and fuel comprise substantial budget categories, but are adequately funded through water revenue. Sewer, landfill, and washeteria budgets reflect expense categories which exceed income. This is compensated through profit from the water utility and general city monies. The city of McGrath operates overall with a surplus, which is held in cash and investment accounts.

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 collection policy is in Title 13 of the McGrath Code of Ordinances. The city utilizes colored paper for delinquent customer notices to remind them of the overdue bill and also a colored door hanger notice of disconnect. McGrath utilizes QuickBooks for tracking all financial transactions of the utility and other city finances are in separate classes within QuickBooks. McGrath has utilized the services of the RUBA contracted QuickBooks consultant. A chart of accounts was also generated from QuickBooks for the city and is able to track the utility revenue and expenditure transactions. Monthly bank reconciliations are made with the check register from QuickBooks and bank statements by the city administrator. Purchases for the utility are discussed by the administrator and program lead to confirm if the purchase is necessary and that funds are available in the budget. Decisions made for purchases outside of budgetary line items are determined by the level of necessity and availability of the general funds. The mayor is notified of these purchasing decisions. Emergency purchases are made on the spot and utilize the city's general fund. Past emergency utility purchases include a replacement heat exchanger and a wastewater tank.

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.
No 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
Previous reports from the IRS show McGrath is current on federal tax reports, although the IRS notes a small tax liability for 2012. RUBA staff has notified the community of this anomaly and reports that they recently received a refund due to sending some payments to an expired IRS address, and will contact the IRS to confirm that the city is in good standing and make any necessary payment. Alaska DOL reports tax clearance for the community of McGrath.

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
McGrath has an current workers' compensation policy through AMLJIA, effective through June 2013. They are up to date with payment. McGrath has an employee handbook that has a hiring and evaluation process, reference to personnel folders, a 90-day probationary period for all new hires and promotions or transfers and other important information for a newly hired or rehired city employee. The city encourages employee training for city employees.

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
McGrath owns the utility and has an ordinance code 13.04.010 which addresses service provided standards for the water utility and clearly states what and how services are provided. The McGrath city council members are active in policy making for the utility and enforces those polices. The city administrator acts as the utility manager, the utility foreman reports to the city administrator. The city administrator has over six years experience with the City of McGrath. The administrator has been awarded the 2005 AWWMA System Manager of the Year and has been recognized by Tanana Chiefs Council for outstanding dedication to the McGrath Water System. The utility foreman has three plus years of experience and has been with the city for the last year. There are two water operators employed by the city. One operator has certification in Water Treatment 1 and Water Distribution 1, which expired on December 31, 2012. The other operator has certification in Water Distribution Provisional and Water Treatment 1 due to expire on December 31, 2012 and has met the required continuing education units. The second operator was a water operator for McGrath, but left the community then returned after allowing the water certification to lapse. He is classified as an Operator In Training (OIT) for the City of McGrath. The bookkeeper has been at the position for over two years and is a certified municipal clerk with the Alaska Association of Municipal Clerks and also has clerks training from the Alaska Municipal League (AML).

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".
Yes 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
The City of McGrath has provided training funds within the utility budgets and actively ensures employee participation in training opportunities provided by outside agencies. The city administrator attended both the Personnel Management for Rural Utilities workshop, March 19-23, 2012 and the Planning Management for Rural Utilities workshop April 23-27, 2012. The administrator was an active participant in the trainings, and returned to McGrath with strong intentions of implementing ideas garnered from the workshops. A monthly preventative maintenance check list is generated for the water utility. The check list includes maintenance for the pumps, alarm battery backup system, exercising of unused valves, clean the chlorination injection point, chlorination vat of sentiment every six months and other maintenance of the utility equipment and facility. AMLJIA has provided the water utility with a safety check list and it is available in the utility and administrator's office. This is used as a guide for safety meetings. There have been no major problems or outages to date with the current utiltiy employees. The operators and foreman report to the administrator or directly the council when the administrator deems it is appropriate. The foreman or operator reports to the council when clarity is needed on specific information regarding the utility plant. Routine operations are reported to the administrator and then forwarded to the council at a council meeting. The City of McGrath has a current distributed CCR and a copy is on file at the utility. The City of McGrath is not on the current October 2012 SNC list. The utility has an inventory control list and critical spare parts list and copies were provided.