Quarterly Report: 2014, April - June (Q4), Shishmaref

Iura Leahu  
DCRA Regional Office:
Nome regional office 
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Shishmaref 
598 2013 DCCED Certified Estimate 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Completed 
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Shishmaref owns, operates and manages Shishmaref Water and Wastewater Treatment System. The utility uses a fill and draw process to obtain and store water over the winter. Raw water is obtained from a watershed reserve. The raw water is pumped over a four-month period, filtered and disinfected prior to being stored in two storage tanks. One water tank is used by the washeteria and local residents hauling water bought at the watering point. The second storage tank is primarily used by the local school. The water is treated at the treatment plant located in the washeteria. The city also owns two pump-houses. One pump-house is used to transport water from the storage tank located near the washeteria to the storage tank used by the local school, health clinic, city hall and garage. Most residents haul their own water from the washeteria. In the summer, many residents collect rain from rooftops. In the winter, residents simply chop off chunks of ice from one of two ponds located about five miles away from the city, load it into their snow machines, and take it to their homes. Wastewater in the City of Shishmaref is treated at two facultative lagoons. The school owns the two-cell lagoon located west of the city garage. Wastewater from the school, city office, health clinic and garage discharges into the two-cell lagoon. Another two-cell lagoon is owned by the city and is located north of the washeteria and the Water Treatment Plant. This lagoon is designed to be a percolating basin. The washeteria and the Water Treatment Plant discharge into the city-owned lagoon. Most of the city residents use honey-buckets, with the majority of them disposing their honey-buckets into bins that are located along the roads throughout the community. The bins are transported by the city to the honey-bucket disposal cell near the west end of the island by an ATV during the summer and by snowmobile during the winter. The City of Shishmaref received a Sanitation Facilities Master Plan in September 2010 from CRW Eingineering Group LLC, which was retained by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). The plan was developed to serve as a guide for the planning, design, and construction of water, wastewater, and solid waste improvements in Shishmaref for the next 20 years. The plan addressed all recommended improvements, approximate capital cost estimates, and the conceptual construction phasing plan based on the sanitation improvement alternatives. A number of sanitation facilities improvements were discussed in detail, including but not limited to, raw water source, water treatment and storage, washeteria and water treatment plant, water distribution, wastewater collection, wastewater treatment and disposal, and solid waste disposal improvements.  
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
On April 8, the city clerk submitted a copy of several ordinances that were allegedly adopted by the council (August 2012) in an effort to codify the city’s code of ordinances. RUBA staff advised the city clerk that based on the council meeting minutes and the review of the copies, the ordinances in questions have not been properly adopted (questions of whether there was a public hearing on the ordinances) and/or signed by the mayor and attested by the city clerk. RUBA staff advised the city clerk that the city council will have to take on the same ordinances again and follow the ordinances adoption process described in the code of ordinances. Also this quarter, Nome RUBA staff provided on-site assistance to the city clerk and bookkeeper April 29-30, 2014. RUBA staff assisted the city clerk and bookkeeper in the preparation of the FY15 city and water and wastewater budget. A council member appointed as the city treasurer was also presented during the preparation process. RUBA staff explained and showed to the city clerk how to estimate budget revenues and expenditures, and the procedure used to annualize revenues and expenditures. RUBA staff also reviewed the budget timetable with city clerk, including the introduction of appropriations ordinances at the city council (1st reading) and scheduling of the public hearing on the appropriations ordinance. RUBA staff explained the budget passage requirements; posting of notices of public hearing for at least five days in three public places and submission of a copy of the budget to the Division of Community and Regional Affairs. RUBA staff explained the steps in preparing the FY13 Certified Financial Statement, passage of a resolution certifying the CFS and submitting the document to the Division of Community and Regional Affairs. On May 14, the Shishmaref city clerk contacted LGS staff with questions about the FY 15 budget. The city clerk wondered if the council could amend the FY15 budget. LGS staff explained to the city clerk that during the budget preparation period there is no need to amend the budget since the budget has not been yet adopted. However, the council has the obligation to carefully review the proposed budget for the new fiscal year and direct the mayor to make changes if it desires. LGS staff explained to the city clerk that the changes proposed by the council during the preparation period do not require to be done by budget amendment procedures. LGS staff referred the city clerk to the FY15 city budget manual prepared and distributed to municipalities by DCRA for instructions on how and when to amend a budget. LGS staff explained that during the budget year, when the budget is already adopted by the council, the city may find that the appropriations ordinance needs changing. When such change is necessary, the city council could use the two types of budget amendments, the supplemental appropriations amendment and the transfer appropriations amendment.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
The coming quarter, Nome RUBA staff will provide telephone and email assistance to the utility clerk, city clerk and the bookkeeper. Since a new city clerk was hired, RUBA staff will be available to offer on-site assistance as requested. RUBA staff plans to complete the codification of the code of ordinances project. The city council is in the process of reviewing the final draft of the code of ordinances.
Essential Indicators:
25 of 26
Sustainable Indicators:
22 of 27
Total Score:
47 of 53


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.
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
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
The City of Shishmaref has adopted the FY14 budget and a copy of the approved budget was submitted to the Division of Community and Regional Affairs. The Shishmaref Water and Wastewater Treatment System's budget (titled Water Plant/Pump House in the budget document) is included in the overall city budget. The budget is comprehensive and includes all or much of revenues and expenditures for the FY14. The budget, however, is not balanced and the city council will have to use other sources of revenues to subsidize the deficit, which is $6,500. The honey-bucket bin rental and honey-bucket hauling service (title garbage/HBBR/Sewer Septic in the budget document) is not balanced. The council has chosen to cover the deficits, subsidizing the utility using the annual State of Alaska Community Revenue Sharing funds. The washeteria has a balanced budget and the washeteria surplus is used to pay for other expenses in the city. The city bookkeeper prepares and submits monthly financial reports comparing actual year-to-date revenues and expenditures to the budget. The reports are submitted to the city council and the utility board each month. The reports are also referenced in the meeting minutes. RUBA staff has received copies of the monthly financial reports for the months of March, April and May 2014. According to the most recent invoices from the electric utility, the utility is current in paying its electric bills. According to the city staff, the utility and its related facilities has an adequate fuel supply. The City of Shishmaref is part of the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation bulk fuel purchase program. The city council ordered 23,000 gallons of heating fuel for the upcoming year and part of it is used to heat the utility. The FY14 budget shows that $25,000 was budgeted for heating fuel. Crowley delivered fuel via barge in July 2013. The utility is receiving revenues from user fees (local school and clinic) and other sources to pay for operating expenses and repair and replacement costs. The revenues are not equal to or above those budgeted. The expenses are not at a level equal to or below those budgeted. The FY14 budget has a line item indicating that $500 was set aside to cover repair and replacement costs. The city clerk is the supervisor of all employees of the city including the water plant operators. The city clerk and the water operators provide monthly reports on the operation, maintenance, and management of the utility. RUBA staff was provided with copies of the reports as referenced in city council meeting minutes. The city council and utility board are active in the budget appropriation process and have a good grasp of the fiscal reality of the city and utilities. The council makes informed decisions regarding utility finances because it receives and reviews monthly financial reports. According to the monthly city council meetings, the city council makes fiscal adjustments when necessary by amending the original budget. The bookkeeper continues to provide monthly financial reports to RUBA staff.

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 City of Shishmaref Code of Ordinances includes billing and collection procedures for all public services provided by the city. Since the water and wastewater systems in Shishmaref do not have residential customers connected to a piped system, the only two customers are the local school and the health clinic. Some residents purchase water at the watering point. In 2013, the QuickBooks RUBA contractor and RUBA staff completed the third and final on-site training of several city and utility employees. The city and its departments have an updated QuickBooks accounting and financial system to monitor its finances. With the new accounting system in place, RUBA staff will begin working with the city and utility staff on a rate study to determine the cost of services. The accounts receivable is handled by the utility clerk. Invoices are sent out monthly to the local school and clinic for water services. The utility clerk is responsible to bill for the honey-bucket bin rental service, wastewater box hauling service, water haul service, trash, and hauling services. The utility clerk is responsible for the cash receipt system and collections and keeps track of all payments by recording them in a detailed logbook. The accounts receivable information is being passed along to the city bookkeeper, who uses QuickBooks Pro 2012 and Excel spreadsheet forms to generate monthly financial reports, prepare monthly bank reconciliations, track payroll liabilities and accounts receivable and payable. The QuickBooks Pro monthly financial reports are converted to an Excel spreadsheet format which makes them easier for the council members to read and understand. Nome RUBA staff provided the city clerk and utility clerk with letters of discontinuance of services and referral letters to collections services. The city offers customers deferred payment plans before taking legal or collection actions against delinquent customers. A chart of accounts is used both in the QuickBooks and Excel spreadsheets. Monthly bank reconciliations are completed. The city clerk reported that all purchases are made in accordance with the budget.

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.
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 and its public utilities use QuickBooks Pro 2012 to calculate, track, and report payroll tax liabilities. The city has no past tax liabilities or liens recorded. On June 19, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service reported that the city is in compliance with federal employment tax filing and deposit requirements. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development confirmed that all state tax payments and tax filing requirements are current.

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.
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.
Yes The utility provides training opportunities to staff as needed and available.
Personnel System Comments
All city employees are covered by an Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA) workers compensation insurance policy. The policy is valid until June 30, 2014 and covers work-related accidents and occupational diseases as per Alaska statutory limits for each occurrence. The city implements a comprehensive personnel management system with the mayor and city council continually reviewing personnel matters. The city and the utility follow the personnel policies in the day-to-day management of personnel. Each employee undergoes a performance evaluation review. The city maintains personnel files for the city employees. The city is in the process of updating all employees' files to include I-9 forms. The city and the utility have a probationary period for new hires that includes orientation, job-training/oversight and evaluation, which is completed after ninety days of an employee being on the job. The city and the utility provide training opportunities to staff as funds are available. City employees and council members continue to attend RUBA sponsored courses. The new city clerk and utility clerk attended the Utility Clerks Management for Rural Utilities course in August 2012 and Financial Management for Rural Utilities in November 2012. A member of the utility board completed Organizational Management for Rural Utilities training in November 2011. City staff and a member of city council completed Planning Management for Rural Utilities training in February of 2013, and another member of the city council completed Elected Officials Management for Rural Utilities training in April of 2013.

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.
No 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 owns and operates Shishmaref Water and Wastewater Treatment System and all related sanitation services. There is a utility commission which consists of three persons appointed by the mayor. The commission is active in policy making and the city enforces the utility policies as per the code of ordinances. The city clerk and members of the city council report that the board has monthly utility meetings. To comply with Alaska's Open Meetings Act, the city consistently posts notice of regular city council meetings in advance in three public places. Each notice indicates the type of meeting to be held, location, date, and time. The city council is active in policy-making for the utility, as evidenced in the city council meetings minutes reviewed. Meeting minutes show that the city council is provided with written financial reports, briefings of ongoing utility projects, staffing issues, training requests and concerns of the public. The utility has a certified water operator, who is also the utility manager and is supervised by the city clerk. The water operator makes verbal reports to the utility board monthly on the operation and maintenance of the utility and all related water and sanitation facilities. There is also an alternate water operator who works part-time or as needed. The operator has stated to RUBA staff he was proud to hold his job because the utility has provided good clean water to its residents. The utility could consider adopting a honey-bucket (or sanitation utility) ordinance and review the washeteria chapter in the current code of ordinances. The city has a current organizational chart posted on the wall of the city clerk's office. RUBA staff personally observed the city council review monthly financial statements and other utility related reports during an on-site visit. The city council plays an active role in policy making. The city council asked for more assistance in setting rates. RUBA staff began collecting the necessary information to conduct such a study.

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.
No 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.
Yes The utility maintains a critical spare parts list.
Operation of Utility Comments
The utility has a lead and an alternate water operator. The lead water operator has a Water Treatment 2 certificate which will expire in December 2016. He also holds a Water Distribution Provisional (expiration December 2014). The lead water operator is pursuing continuing education to maintain his certification. The alternate water operator does not have a certificate but he has attended classes, has been actively working towards certification, and has a total of approximately five years of experience as a water operator. The utility has a preventive maintenance plan and a safety manual. According to meeting minutes, the water operators attend monthly safety meetings by phone. The safety meetings are provided by the Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA). The utility has not suffered any major problems or outages due to management issues. The main water pipe transferring water from the water storage tank by the washeteria to the school storage tank freezes almost every year during the winter. In 2012, the main pipe froze and the city had to have two employees haul water from the main tank to the school tank. In response, in the summer of 2012, the utility bought a special hose (2,200 feet long) to transfer water instead of hauling it. The operator provides oral status reports to the city council and meets all required regulations. The utility has not completed the Consumer Confidence Report. The utility is on the most recent (April 2014) Significant Non-Complier (SNC) list because the system continues to exceed TTHM RAA MCL. The system has replaced the GAC media, but it must replace the media on a regular basis and pump water during low raw water turbidity to address the TTHM RAA MCL. The system must continue collecting quarterly TTHM/HAA5 samples. The utility has an inventory control list and critical parts list.