Kathy Balcom is running as an incumbent for City Council Position No. 5. Balcom is running against incumbent Bob Hall. Balcom answered questions from the Willapa Harbor Herald about her candidacy.
Please give a little background to the voters about yourself.
I was born and raised in northern Idaho. I left home at an early age and graduated from the school of hard knocks as well as law school. I’ve lived here since 2001 and first started visiting relatives who resided here in 1992. During my residency here, I’ve worked as a commercial clam digger, bartender, boat yard assistant and am now employed at East Point Seafood as quality assurance manager. My only child, Angelique, is married to Mehdi and they have two children, Elyas and Aidah.
Why should voters cast their ballot for you instead of your opponent?
It’s time to graduate. As a private citizen working for a small business I believe I will bring a common sense perspective to the council.
What is the biggest problem facing the city of South Bend and what would you do to try to fix it?
The biggest and most pressing problem is the $30 million flush (waste water treatment plant) we are paying for and its serious settlement issues. This issue needs to be addressed and those responsible for the snafu should be required to pay to remedy the situation.
Because the city is facing a budget shortfall, South Bend residents are facing another rate increase on their water bill. Do you have another idea how the city can generate revenue?
First, the area of the shortage needs to be identified and I’d bet that the shortfall is in the sewer arena. There are several facets to the budget. For example the budget is composed of things such as public safety (fire and police), public works (i.e., roads), rent, utilities, wages, water, sewer, and garbage. Although there is a “general” fund, water, sewer and garbage are separate and distinct funds. Each of these funds must generate their own income and have adequate revenue to operate. These funds cannot bemixed together or commingled BUT the city can borrow from one fund to pay for another. For example, if there is a shortage in the sewer fund, the city can borrow from the water fund to pay for the shortage although the water fund must be reimbursed at some point.
Additional revenue for the city is a complex and thorny issue. The local economy is not good and citizens have had to tighten their belts to make ends meet. The city receives funds from various sources, including grants but all monies generated by the city come from taxpayers, whether they are local residents or passers-by that have exerted a little too much pressure on their accelerator. Rather than focusing on generating additional revenue, I believe the city needs to take the same approach that people have to take:Live within its means.
Does South Bend have an infrastructure problem? If so, what is your plan to fix it? Where would you start and how would you get the money?
With the regional wastewater treatment system and South Bend’s relatively new “state-of-the-art” water treatment plant and associated covered reservoirs, South Bend should not have any major infrastructure problems. Fixing ongoing leaks is, or should be, routine maintenance handled by our public works department.If outside agencies come along and demand we make major improvements, those outside agencies should foot the bill.
Have you studied the budget? What would you cut from the budget and what would you add into the budget?
No, I have not seen the proposed 2014 budget so I cannot say what I would cut from the budget. That said, I believe South Bend needs to utilize its’ own internal talents and spend less money on consultants.