FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks City Council advanced an ordinance that gradually would decrease the city’s annual draw from its permanent fund, but not without trepidation from Councilman Jerry Cleworth.  

City code allows 4 percent of the five-year market value of the permanent fund, or average fund balance across five years, to be appropriated to the general fund. The 2017 budget shows a $4.67 million appropriation from the permanent fund to the general fund.

The new ordinance would decrease that appropriation by one-tenth of 1 percent for five consecutive years beginning in 2018. In 2022, the city code would allow only for 3.5 percent appropriation to the general fund. 

Cleworth said this decrease in appropriations could be problematic for the city budget, considering state revenue sharing is down, and the 2017 budget is tight.  

“Once this is codified, this is going to be mandatory,” he said. “It makes me nervous.”

Cleworth said 4 percent has worked for the city in the past, and it should stick with that for now.

Councilman David Pruhs said,“I find it unique that I’m on the side that wants to save and Jerry is not.” 

Pruhs said the Permanent Fund Review Board, which suggested the council decrease the amount appropriated each year, has “the smartest people in the room” and the council should heed its advice. 

The council will vote on the ordinance during its Feb. 27 meeting, which was pushed back one week because Feb. 20 is Presidents Day.

Other notes from the meeting: 

• Pruhs announced he has been appointed to the Alaska Real Estate Commission.

• The council passed a resolution allowing city officials to apply for $583,000 from the State Homeland Security Program through the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The funds would help replace the Land Mobile System vehicle radios used by the Fairbanks Police Department, replace 19-year-old extrication tools for the Fire Department, upgrade security at three fire stations, help city employees participate in Fairbanks North Star Borough earthquake simulation training, host a two-day course on Supervising Patrol Critical Incidents provided by the National Tactical Officers Association, and allow law enforcement to participate in the Alaska Shield 2019 training exercise. 

• Mayor Jim Matherly said he is on an aggressive schedule working with Tanana Chiefs Conference to get the sobering center operational in June. Last month, the state announced it awarded $500,000 to Tanana Chiefs Conference to start a 12-bed sobering center. 

“I’ll be on a bit of blitz,” Matherly said. “This will save more lives.” 

Matherly said he had a meeting with Department of Corrections Commissioner Dean Williams in which they discussed opioid and alcohol abuse statistics in Fairbanks. He also spoke with Williams about Michaela Kitelinger’s death.

Last month, Kitelinger was arrested for a DUI and released from Fairbanks Correction Center. She was walking down Davis Road and was hit and killed by a car. 

Matherly said Kitelinger’s death was a tragedy, and Williams told him the Department of Corrections is looking at ways to prevent tragedies. 

Contact staff writer Kevin Baird at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMcity.

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