As the year 2016 starts off, I would like to take the opportunity to thank BSNC’s shareholders for their continued support for and involvement in their corporation. Fiscal year 2015 was the 11th consecutive year that BSNC experienced financial growth. We now have more than 1,300 employees working across the globe for BSNC and its family of companies. 2015 also marked the 8th consecutive year BSNC has distributed dividends, our longest stretch to date. Our shareholders’ support of BSNC’s growth strategy is important to management and the teams of employees who work diligently to fulfill our mission.
I also would like to thank our Board of Directors for their leadership. When directors are entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the strategic direction, interests and assets of a corporation like BSNC, a fiduciary responsibility to all shareholders and the company arises. Shareholders rely on the Board to protect their interests. Directors are expected to always act in the best interests of BSNC when taking action on any matters that deal directly or indirectly with BSNC, and ensure that their actions are consistent with this important mandate. It’s important that shareholders continue to exercise their right to vote their proxies to ensure that the elected Board represents the best interests of all shareholders.
Many of our shareholders are aware of the fiscal crisis that our State faces. For decades, the State’s budget was largely funded by oil tax revenues; 90 percent of the budget came from taxes on oil production. With the sharp decline in the price of oil, revenues available to the State to fund its governmental functions and responsibilities have declined by more than 75 percent! This has led to needed cuts in funding for many government services and programs, and the cuts will impact every Alaskan. I am working with the Alaska Federation of Natives and the ANCSA Regional Association CEOs group to try to ensure those cuts do not disproportionately impact rural Alaska. Even with budget cuts the State will still have a budget shortfall of several billion dollars. This will likely require dramatic measures, including a reduction of the Permanent Fund Dividend and the imposition of statewide taxes, including a state income tax. I urge our shareholders to become familiar with this important issue and to contact their Legislators to ask that they act this year to address the budget crisis and adopt measures that don’t disproportionately impact rural Alaska.
On a positive note in closing, I would like to share some good news that will benefit the Corporation and our Region for many decades to come. On Feb. 8, 2016 President Obama signed into law H.R. 4188, the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act, which contains provisions to convey ANCSA lands at Point Spencer/Port Clarence to BSNC. As we have reported over the past several years, BSNC has been working with our Congressional Delegation to introduce legislation that would expedite this transfer. Port Clarence is the only natural deep water harbor along Alaska’s Arctic coast and it will gain importance as shipping and resource development grow in the coming years. BSNC stands poised to meet the Arctic future at the gateway to the Arctic, the Bering Strait. We are hopeful that development at Port Clarence will provide economic development opportunities in our Region, jobs for the people of our Region and more dividends for our shareholders.
Gail R. Schubert