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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
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February 24, 2012     The Catalina Islander
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February 24, 2012
 

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This week the Islander continues its coverage of the five Candidates in the race for Avalon City Council and the two candidates for Mayor of Avalon. The election will be held on Tuesday, April 10. The candidates were asked the following question: What in your opinion are the top three issues in Avalon that need to be addressed? BY KATHRYN NEWLANDER -- Sue Rikalo First of all, our budget. The State of California has eliminated all re- development agencies. We relied on certain funds to address major infrastructure issues and for part of our payroll, and these monies are no longer available. We are going to have to keep up on current infra- structure needs and set aside funds for big projects. Next, the sale of the water and gas utilities. We can't sit back complacently while Edison goes through the process of selling the water and gas utilities. This sale is going to affect all of us and we have to fight hard for a low sales price because that is what our initial rates will be based on. I'm a member of the team that is working on this is- sue and have recently become con- vinced that we should participate in creating a non-profit utility district. A for-profit company has no reason to run a tight operation, since op- erating costs are usually recouped and having a costly infrastructure only helps them generate a return for their company. I believe Islanders would run a leaner operation, that we would get tax breaks not available to for-prof- it corporations, and that we would not gold plate our .infrastructure, but would always be looking for best practices to run the operation. We could subcontract with a knowl- edgeable operator to run the opera- tion, but we would have control of Rikalo Page 5 Scott Nelson The biggest issues we are facing involve malntairiing our infrastruc- ture. Our sewer lines, water, gas, trash facility, and other utilities, as well as the mole, pier, and fuel dock are all in varying stated of de- terioration. The trash facility only has about 15 years of life left on it, the Salt water system is aging and needs to be repaired or replaced in some places, etc. Now that the state has taken away our funding to repair these items, we need to figure out a way to pay for it. There are only three ways to accomplish that: either raise taxes, do special assessments, or create business. You have to tourism in order to pay for the in- frastnJcture. Each of these items is going to continue to deteriorate whether we have tourism or not simply be- cause of the fact that the residents use it year round, but the best way to come up with the funds is to iia- crease the revenue from tourism. The impact of these costs is going to be felt for many years. Oley Olson In my opinion the top three issues would be the economy, housing and the need for a local skill0:l workforce. We've had some of the worst years recently with our cross-channel car- der counts. These numbers have al- ways acted as a barometer of sorts. The cross channel numbers are the barometer indicating the current local economic conditions. One way to no- tice the struggling economy in Avalon is by the number of apartrnents avail- able for rent. The number of available units tends to increase when the num- ber of visitors decreases. Another way you can see the economy struggling is the fact that so many of the families who used to live here are gone now, either be- cause they have lost their jobs or they just can't afford it anymore. When the carrier counts are up, there is a greater need for a local skilled work- force, and companies in town are hiring rather than laying off their employees. When the companies are making money, they can afford to spend more in our local economy in the way of improved andmore avail- able housing, for example. These three issues are so important and yet inter-dependent on each other. We need to work closer together with our partners to bring the cross- channel numbers up to allow us to return to an economic time like we experienced in the early 2000s. We need to return to the level of suc- cess and implement ways for im- provement. U Tim Winslow I believe that three of the most important and urgent issues that face Avalon at this time are: The toss of our ACIA funds t0 the state and the economic impact on our city, the completion of the sewer system repair for the entire city, and water quality issues in the bay as mandated by the state. These issues are all intertwined. The completion of the sewer system repairs to the entire city must be accomplished in order to address thewater quality issues in the bay. Solving the bay water quality problem is mandated by the state in a series of required ac- tions by certain dates. These dates are 6/30/12, 6/30/13 and 4/16. The goal is to eliminate beach postings. To date we have authorized con- tracts totaling nearly $5,800,000 over the past 16 months to improve our sewer system. We are com- mitted to eliminating the problem, and we desire to complete these projects sooner than the mandated goals. We have accomplished all of this using our ACIA funds, but the state has now raided that bank ac- count. We need to research and determine methods to hold on to as much money as we legally can to continue to take proper care of our infrastructure. We've partnered with HealthStream, a national organization with an excellent reputation for collecting information about patient experiences. They may be contacting you via telephone about your experience at Catalina Island Medical Center. The survey will take about 10 minutes. Your answers are confidential. The survey can be conduc;ced in English or Spanish. Your privacy will be completely respected. The person who calls is not a medical professional and caller ID will identify the call as Healthstream Research. If you have any questions about the survey, please call (310) 510-0700. atalina Island Medical Center (31o) 51o-o7oo loo Falls Canyon Road PO Box 1563, Avalon 90704 www.CI MedicalCenter.org Richard Hernandez There are obviously more than three issues facing Avalon, but they are all being constrained by the economic issues facing not only our community, but the state of California and the whole country. Nevertheless, we still need to move forward with issues that have been put on hold for far too long and find creative ways to leverage the finances to make them happen. First, we need to finally com- plete a recreation center for the youth of Avalon. We have talked about it for years but nobody has really pushed this to a conclusion. Having coached kids in multiple sports most of my adult life, I have seen the tremendous physical, men- tal and social benefits kids achieve from playing sports, not to mention the added benefits that parents get knowing their kids are in a safe, supervised environment. We need to bring this project to completion. We owe this to the kids andto the town. My second concern is for the plight of a group that nobody seems to talk about - the senior citizens of Avalon. As more and more of the baby boomer population is ap- proaching elderly status, we need more senior housing and should be laying the groundwork for that now. My next major concern is the still failing infrastructure in Ava- lon. As a firefighter I personally witnessed decaying valves and pipes that were partially functional or completely destroyed. To their credit Charlie, Steve and the new water company are takin steps to remediate some of those issues now, but I think there needs to be a more proactive approach to discov- ering issues, creating more specific maintenanEe programs, and provi- sions for regular monitoring so that we can hold people accountable. We can't afford any moresurprises like we have had the last:everal years Continued next page Send us your news and photos! ed@cinews.us 4 Friday, February 24, 2012. .... , E  : ! ......