Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Editorial — Keeping money in community keeps PFD around

Friday will bring 3,269 reasons to be glad we live in Alaska — as long as we don’t think too hard about it.

The big fat permanent fund dividend plus state energy rebate will be cause for celebration for many when the money hits bank accounts, scheduled for Friday for those who opted for direct deposit, or in October for those waiting for checks to reach their mailbox.

The money comes at a cost. This year’s PFD amount is a result of high oil prices, which is good for state coffers, but bad for residents paying the associated increases in fuel prices. The extra $1,200 energy rebate is a further extension of just how high those prices have risen.

So the money comes at a good time and will be greatly appreciated by those walking a tightrope on a shoestring budget this winter. But be careful who you celebrate around. Those who don’t get the money, for whatever reason — checks are garnished, they haven’t lived in Alaska long enough or they missed the filing deadline — probably won’t want to hear about shopping lists, vacation plans or debt reduction.

But there is an indirect way to help those less entitled than you and have your money be useful even after it has left your bank account: Shop in town.

The dividend is a way to share the state’s wealth with its ultimate owners — Alaskans. Spending the dividend puts that wealth back into circulation. There’s no better place to start that cycle than here at home.

Local businesses contribute to communities in myriad ways. Business owners are generous in their support of school and sport programs, and the endless list of fundraisers they are asked to contribute to. Businesses provide a needed service of commerce by their very existence. Do you like being able to watch a movie, buy clothes or get a painting framed without having to drive to Anchorage? Then support the stores that offer the services you value.

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, sales taxes go to support schools. Some retail prices may be cheaper in sales taxless Los Anchorage, but supporting education has value that’s worth every penny kept in the borough. And rising gas prices and postal rates are making it more economical to shop at home.

Share the wealth in a way that benefits your community. Shopping locally pays dividends all its own.

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