Catalina Island
64.4 °F
Reported on:
September 19, 2017 - 4:17pm

Articles by Charles M. Kelly

Avalon City Manager Ben Harvey called two “all hands” meetings at City Hall Tuesday, Nov. 19, to discuss the city’s $1.7 million deficit.

A recent staff report to the City Council put the figure at $1.62 million.

The meeting was not a surprise. The Friday, Nov. 8, Catalina Islander reported that Harvey planned to call a staff meeting to discuss the deficit.

The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission will hold a hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 4, to consider the Catalina Island Conservancy’s proposal to relocate and remodel Eagle’s Nest Lodge, the last surviving stage coach stop on the Island.

The Avalon City Council approved a new budget at the agency’s Tuesday, Nov. 5, meeting.

The new budget says that Avalon will spend $1.62 million more than it makes this year.

The budget for Fiscal Year 2013/14 is based on $22,316,694 in revenues and $23,937,949 in expenses.

A staff report said reserves would cover the additional expenses.

Approximately 200 students attended an Oct. 23 performance by a professional skateboarder at Avalon’s Skate Park, according to the commander of the Avalon Sheriff’s Station. The performance was part of the fall kick-off of the Avalon Sheriff’s Station’s Youth Activities League. The initial kick off event was held at Avalon School.

The state government has given hospitals throughout California until 2030 to upgrade their facilities or build new hospitals to meet earthquake safety standards, according to the CEO of the Catalina Island Medical Center.

On Tuesday night, Oct. 15, Council Member Ralph Morrow made the need for a new hospital public.

“It’s been long known that the hospital needs to be replaced,” said John Friel, head of the Medical Center.

Avalon needs a new hospital building, according to a member of the Avalon Municipal Hospital Board of Trustees. He estimated the project would cost $10-$15 million. The city owns the hospital.

The news came Tuesday night, Oct. 15, when the Avalon City Council briefly adjourned the council meeting to hold the hospital trustees meeting. Council Member Ralph Morrow made the need for a new hospital public during a brief comment before the council meeting resumed.

Avalon could go into strict water rationing in March if there is no rain, a Southern California Edison representative told the City Council Tuesday night, Sept. 18.

Ron Hite, Edison’s operations manager on Catalina Island, said that would be the worst-case scenario.

He said that as of Thursday, Sept. 12, the Thompson Reservoir water level measured at 435 acre feet. Without the desalination plant, the water level would have been 413 acre feet.

Avalon’s new city manager is best known to Islanders as a spokesman for Southern California Edison, but Ben Harvey also has a background in city government.

“I want to work as the city manager for Avalon because it’s a community that I am passionate about.  This opportunity also allows me to apply my transferable skills and experience.  It’s my goal to work with the Avalon City Council, city staff, and key community stakeholders to empower Avalon to reach its tremendous full potential,” Harvey said.

Ben Harvey of Southern California Edison is Avalon’s new city manager. The Avalon City Council approved Harvey’s contract at the Tuesday, Sept. 3, meeting.

“It is true—I will be leaving SCE to become the new, full-time city manager for the City of Avalon,” Harvey said.

According to the staff report by City Attorney Scott Campbell, more than 40 people applied for the job.

The position became available in March when part-time City Manager Steve Hoefs announced he was stepping down.

The Avalon City Council denied an appeal of a request for a special event permit for the Catalina Air Show Tuesday, Aug. 20. Event organizers had appealed city staff’s decision to deny the special event permit, but the council rejected the appeal.

The Catalina Air Show was originally scheduled for Sept. 8 and 9. However, there was a schedule conflict: the Catalina Crossing US Outriggers Championship race was scheduled for the same weekend.