State dividend checks arrive in bank accounts

Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Most people who asked the state to transfer this year's Alaska Permanent Fund dividends directly into their bank accounts awoke today $1,850 richer.

However, the state Permanent Fund Division was unable to do direct deposits for 440 applicants with accounts at Salomon Smith Barney, according to an agency spokesperson.

It's the first time an entire group of direct deposits has failed, and the agency still is trying to figure out what happened, said Paul Dick, chief of PFD operations.

"We're not sure where the problem arose," Dick said. "We're trying to trace that through right now."

The state instead will mail checks to people with Salomon Smith Barney accounts, said Dick, noting those checks will be in the first batch to be mailed Oct. 17. The state hopes to have all checks delivered by Nov. 2.

Approximately 70 percent, or 406,682, of nearly 600,000 applicants receive the annual check by direct deposit. The failed transfers represent a small percentage of the total amount posted to bank accounts.

The amount transferred was roughly $740 million, and some local businesses have anticipated the windfall all year. Fred Meyer usually sees a sales spike in home electronics and apparel immediately following the deposit, said spokesman Rob Boley. The store has stocked up on televisions, DVDs, computers and camcorders in anticipation of the dividend distribution, he said.

"We consider it a significant sales boost and we plan for it a little bit based on past trends," Boley said.

Jensen's Home Furnishings is planning a PFD sale Friday and Saturday, said Ray Jensen, part owner.

"Normally October, November and December are the best months for furniture anyway, but I'm sure the dividend helps," Jensen said.

The head of the Alaska State Employees Credit Union said she believed members would spend more cautiously this year, partly because of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

"I think the habits are going to be different than prior years," said Sharon Kelly, CEO of the credit union. "I think people are going to be more conservative and save some of it. We're going to have to wait and see."

The credit union's home banking Internet system was getting "hammered" by members checking their account balances today, said Kelly, laughing.

And the phones were "ringing off the hook" at First National Bank as customers called to confirm their accounts reflected the dividend deposit, said Lloyd Johnson, vice president of the bank.

"It's a great day to be a banker in Juneau," Johnson said. "The lobby is bustling with people and they've all got smiles on their faces. It's one of my favorite days of the year."

Kathy Dye can be reached at kdye@juneauempire.com.



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