RUBA Community Status Report

Community Name: Nikolai


Community:

Nikolai

RUBA:

Yes

Staff:

Robin Eleazer

Agreement:

Yes

DCA Region:

Anchorage

Agreement Date:

6/10/2009

Region:

Interior

Exp Date:

6/10/2011

Govt Type(s):

2nd Class City

Borough:

Unorganized

Assessment Date:

2/8/2010

Population:

88

Active Community:

Yes

Date Updated:

9/24/2013


Community Sanitation Overview:

All 47 households and facilities use individual wells; of these, only two units lack plumbing. Thirty-three homes, including ten new HUD housing units north of the airport, are connected to the piped wastewater system. The remaining 15 homes use wastewater tanks. Funds have been requested for a master plan to rehabilitate the washeteria, develop two new wells, upgrade the landfill and expand the piped wastewater system. Nikolai does not have a piped water system; households rely on individual wells.

RUBA Status
and Activities
this Quarter:

On July 2, RUBA staff sent a copy of the third quarter 2012 941 form for the city clerk to sign and file with the IRS. Once this is submitted, the City of Nikolai's correct tax status and filings should be complete for 2012. Additionally, RUBA staff informed the clerk that the 941 for the first quarter of 2013 had not yet been filed. Finally, RUBA staff sent an IRS form 8821 to the clerk for the mayor's signature. On August 5, RUBA staff contacted the Nikolai City Administrator regarding the city's most recent quarterly 941 tax filings. After ensuring all quarterly reports had been filed on time, RUBA staff contacted the IRS regarding payment status. Electronic payments were being credited to the incorrect filing status. On September 23, Nikolai City Clerk Winchell Ticknor contacted RUBA staff regarding logging on to the IRS's online payment system (EFTPS). The clerk had not paid payroll taxes online since the middle of August, due to upgrading the city's Quickbooks software. Since it was still within the same quarter, RUBA staff walked the clerk through the process of calculating the payroll liability, and remained on the phone while the clerk logged on and made the payment. RUBA staff reminded the clerk that quarterly 941 filing reports would be due before the end of October.

 

Capacity Indicator: Finances

Essential Indicators:

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.

No

The utility is receiving revenues (user fees or other sources) sufficient to cover operating expenses.

Sustainable Indicators:

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.

Comment:

Financial indicators have been shifted to 'no' to reflect a lack of current documentation. These indicators will be changed when current information is received. Nikolai's FY14 budget was adopted by the city on July 9, 2013. The budget includes expenditures for the wastewater department. The City of Nikolai owns and operates the electric utility. The City of Nikolai receives fuel from Everts, Inc. on an as needed basis. All fuel orders are paid in full upon arrival. The City of Nikolai does not charge residents for wastewater service because only a small portion of the community is on the system. The city has instead chosen to subsidize the wastewater utility through the fuel and electric sales revenue. Manager/operator reports are given verbally when requested by the council. Because of the small labor pool in Nikolai, many city council members either work for the city or donate time to the city to complete needed jobs or tasks.

 

Capacity Indicator: Accounting Systems

Essential Indicators:

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:

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.

No

The utility has a purchasing system that requires approval prior to purchase, and the approval process compares proposed purchases to budgeted amounts.

Comment:

The city does not have an adopted collection policy for the wastewater utility because they do not charge the customers. They do, however, have an adopted collection policy that they actively and consistently enforce for the electric and fuel utilities; these utilities subsidize the wastewater utility. The city utilizes QuickBooks for accounts receivable, accounts payable and payroll. The QuickBooks system is set up properly and has been a reliable tool to monitor the city's finances. Bills are issued on a regular basis by the fifth of every month in accordance with the city's billing and collection policy. The city purchasing system requires prior approval from the mayor or city clerk depending on the purchase amount. Once approval has been given, a purchase order is issued; however, requests are not compared to the budgeted amounts. In August, the city purchased a new computer and updated its software with the most recent version of Quickbooks 2013.

 

Capacity Indicator: Tax Problems

Essential Indicators:

Yes

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.

Comment:

As of September 19, the city was not in compliance pending the return of the Authorization to Request Federal Tax Information and the Department of Labor report. The city is not compliant with required federal tax deposits and filing. The City of Nikolai has been making federal tax deposits, though due to problems with the city's filing status, the payments have not been properly credited. The city has recently engaged in electronic filing. RUBA staff continue to work with the IRS and with the City of Nikolai to clear up employment tax filing status and issues. While RUBA believes the city is in good standing with the IRS, payments have not yet been posted to the correct filing status as of September 23. Tax clearance from the Alaska Department of Labor dated September 23, 2013 has been granted.

 

Capacity Indicator: Personnel System

Essential Indicators:

Yes

The utility has a posted workers compensation insurance policy in effect.

Sustainable Indicators:

No

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.

Comment:

The City of Nikolai has a posted workers' compensation insurance policy in effect from July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013 with Alaska Municipal League Joint Insurance Association (AMLJIA). The city's current hiring process is not written. Job notices are posted for ten days with the job title and description. Interested applicants apply at the city office. There is currently no probationary period for employees. Personnel folders contain: I-9, Job Application and Letter of Acceptance. Training opportunities to staff are provided as funds allow or opportunities by other sponsors come available.

 

Capacity Indicator: Organizational Management

Essential Indicators:

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:

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.

Comment:

The City of Nikolai owns and operates the utility, and is active in policy making for the utility. The city council has been actively enforcing the fuel and electric utility policy. The city clerk has attended a QuickBooks training class sponsored by the RUBA program. The utility operator is adequately trained to operate the utility, but does not hold certification. The City of Nikolai has adopted the necessary ordinance to give it the authority to operate. The Nikolai City Council meets as required and complies with the Open Meeting Act for all meetings.

 

Capacity Indicator: Operation of Utility

Essential Indicators:

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:

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".

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.

Comment:

The utility operator is not certified, although the operator is actively working toward the necessary certification. A preventative maintenance plan for the existing system is on file in the city office. The City of Nikolai does not participate in AMLJIA monthly safety meetings or conduct other means of safety meetings. The utility operator reports to the mayor, vice-mayor or city clerk when there is a problem or when the operator can foresee one. The utility operator and council attempt to keep needed critical spare parts on hand but they currently have no written critical spare parts list.

RUBA Activities for the Coming Quarter:

New RUBA staff have been assigned to work with the community. RUBA staff will continue to work with the City of Nikolai to ensure employment tax filing compliance. RUBA staff plan to work with the city and with the Quickbooks contractor to schedule another trip to assist with the reconciliation of the Quickbooks files.