Quarterly Report: 2009, October - December (Q2), Adak

John Nickels  
DCRA Regional Office:
Gov't Type:
Second Class City 
Agreement Date:
City of Adak 
Assessment Status:
Assessment Date:
Exp Date:
Last Updated:
Community Sanitation Overview:
The City of Adak operates and manages a piped water and sewer system. The city council is the policy making body for the utility. Surface water is derived from Lake Bonnie Rose, which is located approximately three miles southwest of the core townsite. The water utility is operated as a Class A public water system and operates under filtration avoidance (Public Water System Identification Number 260595); therefore, the only treatment provided is chlorination with required detention for disinfection. Water is treated, stored in two 450,000-gallon tanks, and piped to facilities and housing units. If needed, two 500,000-gallon storage tanks provide additional water storage. The wastewater treatment system discharges through a marine outfall line to Kuluk Bay. One-hundred percent of homes have complete plumbing. The City collects and deposits refuse at a municipal landfill, Roberts Landfill, which is a permitted Class Three landfill with balefill. The City also provides road maintenance, airport maintenance, and a small boat harbor facility. Bulk fuel is provided by the Aleut Corporation, which maintains nine underground tanks with a total capacity of approximately 18,000,000 gallons of marine diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel. Cable television is provided by Adak Eagle Enterprises. A feasibility study to provide guidance for water and wastewater utility downsizing, upgrading, and future utility project planning for the City of Adak is underway under the auspices of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Village Safe Water. The study is being conducted by the Bristol Environmental and Engineering Services Corporation located in Anchorage. Although the water treatment plant is operating and provides adequate potable water, the City of Adak is attempting to address numerous water and wastewater utility concerns including aging infrastructure, chronic leakage, and maintaining a water/wastewater utility designed for much larger capacity than is actually needed. 
RUBA Status & Activities This Qtr:
RUBA staff attended a workshop held by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) October 20, 2008 in Anchorage for the purpose of hearing from entities interested in providing electric service on the island of Adak. The RCA found cause to revoke the city's Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and was looking for another utility to take over and provide the service. Representatives from TDX Power, Adak Fisheries, Adak Telephone Utility, the Aleut Corporation, and other individuals testified regarding the impacts of the city's failure to provide reliable electrical power and the need to find a suitable replacement. Funds from the Bridge Loan Program were provided by DCRA to the city to keep the generators operating through November. Effective December 1, 2008, TDX Power was granted temporary operating authority for the community's electric utility. Arrangements to purchase the utility's assets and take over permanently are underway. Future sanitation projects for the community were discussed at a meeting with Bristol Environmental and Engineering Services November 12, 2008. Representatives of the Village Safe Water (VSW) program, Aleut Corporation, and the Regulatory Commission of Alaska attended, as well as a City of Adak council member, who attended by teleconference. Bristol Environmental is in the process of revising a feasibility study for water and wastewater projects on the island. Future sanitation projects will depend on a community development plan, findings of the revised feasibility report, and the city's ability to meet RUBA management assessment indicators. The City of Adak does not currently meet all RUBA essential management indicators. The city has failed to follow the collection policy despite recommendations by DCRA staff numerous times since a management assessment was conducted in 2006. In addition to the collections issue, a budget for FY09 was submitted to DCRA that had apparently been adopted by the council without proper notice for a public hearing. The city was notified of the error and instructed in how to properly adopt the budget; to date, RUBA staff has not received the properly adopted budget or financial reports. The city manager and city clerk resigned in September; a new clerk was hired soon after. RUBA staff familiarized her with the assessment issues but city staff and council members were more concerned with resolving the community's fuel supply and electric utility problem. Attempts to contact city staff in late December to discuss the status of RUBA indicators were unsuccessful.  
RUBA Activities for the Coming Qtr:
RUBA staff will continue to offer, and assist with deficient RUBA indicators or other local government and utility management issues if requested by the community.
Essential Indicators:
10 of 27
Sustainable Indicators:
12 of 27
Total Score:
22 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
A budget for FY09 was received by DCRA (Ordinance 09-2008-02)that indicated the public hearing was only three days after introduction of the ordinance rather than five days as required by AS 29.25.020 (b)(3). Also, the ordinance was signed only one day after the introduction, indicating there may not have been a public hearing. Either way, it appeared the public notice requirement was not met, and sufficient revenues were not identified to pay for budgeted utility expenses. The city was notified and instructed in how to make the changes and properly adopt the budget but to date, RUBA has not received documentation that it has been done. Monthly financial reports have not been provided to the council recently; in the past, they consisted of a profit/ loss report, with an accounts payable summary. According to city staff, budget amendments are not adopted by the city council. The city's manager and clerk resigned this quarter; a clerk has been hired but attempts to address assessment issues this quarter were unsuccessful.

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.
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.
No 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 Adak has adopted a billing and collection policy, including provisions for disconnection of service for nonpayment. A substantial amount of customer debt overdue for greater than 90 days has been a problem and is largely responsible for the city's current overdue accounts payable balance and the fuel crisis it caused. Some residential customers have been billed through the Power Stat meter system that requires payment in advance for electric service. Water, sewer, and landfill charges are also programmed into the system, effectively requiring prepayment for all residential utility services, and ensuring a high collection rate. Management of the electric utility was taken over by TDX Power effective December 1, 2008 so it is unclear how billing for water and sewer will be conducted going forward. There are a number of commercial and industrial users, however, that were not using the Power Stat system, and that have large outstanding, greater than 90 day-old utility debt. Many of these accounts have stayed the same or increased since July, 2007, indicating that the collection policy was not followed. Now that the city no longer operates the electric utility, it is unclear whether the old electric utility debt will be collected.

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
There has been no recent verification of the utility's tax status.

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.
No 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.
No 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
RUBA has not received documentation of current workers' compensation insurance. A copy of Chapter 5.01 Personnel Regulations is on file and city staff report that day to day personnel matters generally follow the policy, but it is not followed all the time. For example, performance evaluations are to be performed for each regular employee at least every 12 months, (5.01.50, #1.) however, staff indicates that evaluations are not conducted. The policy gives no direction regarding the evaluation being tied to the job description, nor is there an evaluation form provided. Job descriptions and a hiring policy are not included in the personnel regulations; however, job descriptions are maintained electronically on the Clerk's computer. There is a probation period for new hires, but the policy does not require an evaluation at the end of the probation period.

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
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
Although the City of Adak is a relatively new second-class city, it is well known as the owner and operator of the community's utility services. The city council is active and regular meetings are planned for the first and third Wednesday of each month. Workshop sessions are often held before meetings. They are not active in seeking enforcement of the collection policy. There has been a lack of enforcement of utility policy in the area of collections as evidenced by a large amount of outstanding customer debt greater than 90 days old. Bookkeeping has been the responsibility of the city clerk. The city clerk and manager both resigned in September 2008; a city clerk was hired soon after but the manager position remains unfilled.

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
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.
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.
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
City staff reported that there are maintenance plans and check lists for different components of the water and sewer systems. These plans are kept at the water treatment building and were not available for review. Safety meetings are held occasionally and follow a written safety guide to focus on different safety issues. Attendance is documented with a sign-in sheet. There is one certified operator for Water Distribution and Water Treatment. This operator's certifications expire 12/31/09. Operations and maintenance reports are reportedly not created, and status reports from the operator generally occur only when there are issues that need attention. Lists for inventory and critical spare parts are not used, however, an attempt is made to have critical spare parts on hand.