March 30, 2023

A uniquely Alaskan event – the distribution of the annual Permanent Fund Dividend – is coming up on Sept. 20 and I’m pleased to announce that it will be the largest in state history.
The 2022 PFD, at $3,284, is being sent out a couple weeks early this year as Alaskans bear the brunt of inflation we haven’t seen since the first dividend was paid in 1982.
For a family of four, a total of more than $13,000 can go a long way in offsetting the record-high costs of energy and food we’re experiencing, preparing for winter, paying off debt, saving for college, or any number of other purposes.
We are sending out the PFD early this year because of the difficult times Alaskans are going through, but it is important to remember the dividend is not, and has never been, a welfare payment.
Rather, the PFD is each Alaskan’s share of our collective resource wealth. It is ours to use as we see fit, and I have always maintained that the people know how to spend their money better than the government does.
I also recognize that despite this year’s historic amount, it is the seventh year in a row in which the statutory dividend formula that remains on the books has not been followed.
For those who remain frustrated by this situation, be assured that it is frustrating for me as well.
As we’ve known since 2016 when this 40-year-old system was broken, Governors can only reduce the PFD; they can’t increase it.
Like my belief that Alaskans, and not government, know how best to spend their money, my position on the statutory PFD formula has also been consistent: the Legislature needs to either follow the law or change the law, and if the law is changed, it must be done with the consent of the people.
The only sustainable solution is to trust the people, and to let their voices be heard.
Trust in government is earned; it is not owed. Our governments at the local, state, and federal level are formed to serve the people, not the other way around. All too often, elected representatives forget that once the campaign ends and governing begins.
I have not forgotten who I work for, and each year in office I’ve worked to deliver the biggest PFD possible under the constraints of the 2017 Supreme Court decision that ruled neither the Governor nor the Legislature is bound by the statutory formula.
In that respect, I’m glad that Alaskans are receiving a PFD of historic size this year.
At the same time, a tremendous amount of work remains to solve this issue by returning to a predictable formula that takes Juneau politics out of the equation once and for all.
I’m committed to working with the people and Legislature to get it done.
Mike Dunleavy, 12th Governor of Alaska
Juneau, AK
Charlie Pierce – Candidate for Governor now on the Yukon to meet folks
Charlie Pierce his wife Vonnie are headed down the Yukon the next week or so.
September 9, 2022
My last official day as mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough will be September 30th, 2022. In the August primary, I was honored to be voted in the top 4 candidates for governor. Now I must devote my full attention to that contest. Ideally, the 5-week notice I provided the borough assembly will be enough to ensure a smooth transition to an interim mayor.
As I leave the office of mayor, my reflections on the past five years are coupled with feelings of accomplishment and gratitude. It has been an incredible time to serve as your mayor. Over the past 5 years, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has successfully navigated through at least 9 disaster  declarations, including floods, earthquakes, landslides, the Swan Lake Fire, and Covid-19. Despite these challenges, my team and I are pleased to have the following achievements to highlight for you today:
• In 2017, we came to office facing a budget deficit of $4.5 million. Now, the fund balance for fiscal year 2023 is in the black almost $24 million ($23,954,000). Even more, this positive balance does not include a couple “Christmas presents” that are also coming your way. First is a prior debt reimbursement of $6 million now earmarked in the state’s budget; second is $4 million in underestimated sales tax collections from August 2022. The net result will increase the Kenai Peninsula Borough fund balance to $35 million as I leave office.
• As mayor, I proposed no increases in property tax mil rates. The previous administration under
Mike Navarre had planned a property tax increase of one mil. That proposed increase would have taken $8 million away from borough homeowners and out of our economy. I would like to especially recognize the contributions of Brandi Harbaugh, the borough’s Finance Officer. With Ms. Harbaugh’s assistance, we developed realistic and conservative budgets through 2026.
The gains can be lost. Be vigilant. I encourage all Kenai Peninsula residents to become familiar with the budgeting process, get involved, and hold your representatives accountable to use these public funds wisely. Budget documents are available online at FY 23 Assembly Adopted Budget.
• The Kenai Peninsula Land Trust was developed under my administration, and now we look forward to receiving dividends from it. I would like to especially acknowledge the efforts of Marcus Mueller, KPB’s Land Management Officer, for his vision and for personally spear-heading this project. Two previous mayors had passed on making Mueller’s vision a reality. It took a lot of planning, hard work, and then convincing nine assembly members to agree. Congratulations, Marcus, and thank you.
• My administration oversaw the adoption of a safety culture for our borough employees. When I took office, the 10-year cost of workman’s comp claims was $18 million. To date, we have reduced this expense by 60%. Most importantly, of course, our employees are experiencing fewer injuries.
• Employee Leadership Training is funded through the 2023 Budget. It teaches and gives our borough employees the skills to lead with confidence.
• We transitioned to a borough-run Emergency Dispatch Center. Formerly run by the State of Alaska, it is now staffed by borough employees and funded by the users. The result is increased efficiency and faster response times to Police, EMS, and Fire calls. When you are waiting for help, those reduced minutes mean lives saved.
• My focus has been to get a paramedic on every ambulance leaving the station. These are the specialists that can administer medication on site, increasing patient survival. My administration has added 18 emergency-response positions. When I first came to office, our first responders were burned out, emergency calls were up, overtime was high, and volunteerism was down. We have addressed these problems head-on by hiring more highly skilled staff.
• We now have a reliable tsunami warning system. 5 years ago, we didn’t get alarms until three hours after the event was over. A $700,000 system has been secured to fix this issue.
• We initiated the borough use of social media. Its use has proven invaluable for keeping the public informed, especially during disasters.
• Nikiski now has a new fire station, Station #3, without any added borough debt. The station operates 24/7 with staff and volunteers. I am heartened to know that families in that area will have faster responses.
• My administration structured a $65,000,000 bond package for school facilities, and a $16,000,000 bond package for a new Soldotna fire station. These items will be presented to voters in October. We are confident the bond packages serve the borough’s best interests. Now is the time to make these investments in our communities.
• Construction for a new Kachemak-Silo School building is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2024. The K-Silo needed a new school building for years and I am happy to move that project off my desk as it was inherited from the Navarre administration. The fiscal year 2023 budget already includes $3,000,000 for this stand-alone project (not included in the bond). There should be no further delays for families and children there.
• School security was enhanced. Six of our most vulnerable schools now use key card access. Soon the borough building will, as well.
• My administration invested in our Information Technology Department. That team was instrumental during the remodel of the Assembly Chambers. We can now support public participation in meetings from anywhere via Zoom. I highly encourage borough residents to attend assembly meetings. More information can be found on the borough’s website at Kenai Peninsula Borough Meeting Calendar.
• Long-standing housekeeping issues are now being addressed. There were unauthorized structures on borough lands, and now a fair process is in place to achieve resolution. Junk cars had been in the public right of ways. Today they are hauled off at the owner’s expense.
This list a sampling to show I have been a faithful steward of the office entrusted to me. I applaud the 300 Kenai Peninsula Borough employees for all these achievements; working with them is what I enjoyed most about my job. I give special thanks to my former Chiefs of Staff Aaron Rhoades, James Baisden and John Quick. I wish the assembly and the new administration the best. Try to be nice to each other. We have so many blessings bestowed on us in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. It has truly been my honor to serve.
Mayor Charlie Pierce
Kenai Peninsula Borough 2017-2022
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