ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Anchorage mayoral candidate Jack Frost is spearheading a drive to create Anchorage's own version of the state's popular Permanent Fund dividend program.
Starting Friday at the Alaska State Fair, the Anchorage Permanent Fund Committee will start gathering signatures in an effort to spend 5 percent of city reserve funds worth $140 million on property tax relief and an annual payment to residents of Anchorage.
The city created the reserve accounts with the proceeds from the 1999 sale of the Anchorage Telephone Utility and uses the money for city services. The city created two trust funds when it sold ATU. The main fund was to contribute up to $9.4 million a year for city services, equivalent to the highest dividend ATU had paid the city before the sale.
A smaller reserve fund was intended to supplement the main fund.
The two funds grew by $40 million last year when then-Mayor Rick Mystrom added the higher than expected earnings from the city's police and fire retirement fund. As of July 30, there were $120 million in the main account and $20 million in the reserve account.
Last year the earnings from the main fund were not enough to cover the $9.4 million. So the city dipped into the reserve fund.
If this year's downward stock market pattern continues, the city will have to draw all $9.4 million from the reserve account, treasurer Dan Moore said.
The group wants to get 10,000 signatures and put the matter on the April ballot. Then voters can decide whether to amend the city charter and spend the money differently.
Frost's group wants to spend 2.5 percent of the fund's average five-year value on an annual citizens dividend and another 2.5 percent to lower property taxes.
Mayor George Wuerch said through a spokesman the plan would bring administrative costs, add to its recipients' income taxes, and produce only a paltry payment.
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