KTNA Studio – Dave Totten, artist

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by Dora Miller

KTNA Studio

KTNA On Air Studio, Jan 2013

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by James Trump

Winter Black-capped Chickadee

winter chickadee

Photo by Robin Song

Fish Lake morning

Fish Lake morning

photo: Robin Song


Federal government to give $3.45 million to Mat-Su Borough for tax exempt lands

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that a total of $28.5 million will be coming to Alaskan municipalities in the form of payment in lieu of taxes, or PILT.  That’s the money that the federal government pays on land it owns that is exempt from local property taxes.  This year’s amount is the highest ever, and it will mean more money for many boroughs throughout the state.

The Mat-Su Borough will once again receive the largest sum, more than $3.4 million.  That’s an increase over last year’s $3.2 million.  PILT funds represent a substantial revenue source for the borough.  Since the announcement was just made, it’s unknown what the extra money in the borough and statewide could eventually be used for.

Borough Emergency Services Director discusses EMS plans

Thursday, May 8, 2014


One of the items up for consideration as the Mat-Su Borough Assembly discusses the upcoming borough budget is EMS services in the Valley.  The Department of Emergency Services has a new plan on the table that, if proven successful in the core area, could make its way to the Upper Valley next year.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more:

In the last year, borough EMS service has encountered two major unanticipated financial hurdles.  The first came in the form of contribution to the Public Employee Retirement System, or PERS.  The State of Alaska ruled in 2013 that the borough is required to make contributions to PERS for emergency personnel who work more than thirty hours per week.  In addition, those same employees will, starting next year, be subject to health coverage mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act.  As a result, hours for responders were cut throughout the borough so that they would not trigger those requirements.  A long-term solution was held off pending the current budget discussions. (more…)

Assembly Member Vern Halter discusses budget, projects, and more

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


On Wednesday morning, Mat-Su Borough Assembly Member Vern Halter visited the KTNA studio to answer questions about the borough budget, schools, the railroad, and other issues facing Upper Valley residents on Su-Valley Voice.  Unfortunately, an issue with the recording means that KTNA will not be able to re-air the program or post it online this week.  Su-Valley Voice host and News Producer Phillip Manning went through the parts of the recording that were recovered, and has this report: (more…)

Mat-Su Borough Assembly meets in Willow to discuss budget

Monday, May 5, 2014


On Friday, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly held a special meeting at the Willow Community Center to discuss the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  More than thirty area residents attended the meeting, but only a handful spoke.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning was there, and has this report:

Most of the public testimony at Friday’s meeting came from Willow area residents requesting funding for area trails. After that, about half of the meeting consisted of comments from the Assembly Members themselves.  Jim Sykes, who represents District 1, expressed concern about the borough relying increasingly on grants in order to fund expenses.  He says that the portion of the budget paid for by borough taxes has decreased, while the amount funded by grants, mostly from the state, has increased from one-fifth of the budget to about one-third over the last decade. (more…)

Borough Staff Updates Talkeetna Council on Flood Funding

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

On Monday, the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors held its regular monthly meeting.  The bulk of the discussion centered around recovery from the 2012 flood, particularly funding for the repair of the dike and revetment on the Talkeetna River.

Casey Cook, Mat-Su Borough Emergency Manager, and Pam Ness, Borough Flood Plain Administrator, were present at the meeting to discuss the progress of flood control measures, including both state and federal funding. (more…)

Mat-Su Borough Appeals to Board of Fisheries for More Attention to Susitna Salmon

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Alaska Board of Fisheries is in the midst of two weeks of meetings on potential changes to fishing regulations in the Upper Cook Inlet.  The meetings have become the most recent venue for what are often referred to as the “fish wars.”  Commercial, sport, and subsistence fishermen all depend on a finite resource, and all of them want to make sure they get their share of the stock.  Often, discussions center around the Kenai and Kasilof, but the Mat-Su Borough is doing its best to shift some focus to the Susitna River as well.  Acting Borough Fish Commission chair Larry Engel says that sustainability has become a serious problem for the Valley. (more…)

Mat-Su Borough sued over emergency services benefits

Monday, January 20, 2014

On Friday, a class-action suit was filed against the Matanuska-Susitna Borough on behalf of emergency services personnel.  The suit claims that some Borough Emergency Services staff are owed for contributions to the Public Employee Retirement System, or PERS.  The state’s Department of Administration audited the Borough in 2012, and determined that paid on-call emergency services workers should be eligible for the program.  The Borough’s employment agreement does not include PERS contribution for emergency services employees. (more…)

Chamber Looks to Revive Riverfront Management Plan

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce is attempting to revitalize a nine-year-old Borough plan for the riverfront.  Under the plan, which was approved by the Borough Assembly in 2004, the Mat-Su Borough would lease riverfront land from the Alaska Railroad with the intent to develop campsites and establish a concessionaire to maintain the property.

The plan has never been implemented, because no agreement has been made between the Borough and the Railroad.  According to Chamber of Commerce President Beth Valentine, the Railroad is ready to look into leasing the property, but first needs a lease application from the Borough.   (more…)

Talkeetna Sewer and Water Board Concerned About System Assessment Plan

Thursday, November 14, 2013

On Wednesday, the Talkeetna Sewer and Water Advisory Board held a special evening meeting.  The purpose of the meeting was to provide consumers with a public forum to speak to both Borough staff and elected officials.  Many of the invitees canceled due to deteriorating road conditions, including the Borough staff who had planned to attend.  The weather did not keep everyone away, however.  State Senator Mike Dunleavy made the trip to Talkeetna, and listened to the concerns of both the Advisory Board and other community members.  (more…)