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    Horne to sum up state of city

    The interim city manager says his address, to be televised tonight, will point to accomplishments.

    By CHRISTINA HEADRICK

    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 12, 2000


    CLEARWATER -- In an effort to polish City Hall's tarnished image, interim City Manager Bill Horne wants to start a tradition tonight by giving a "State of the City" address about the past year's civic accomplishments.

    Horne says the themes of his numbers-intensive presentation will be how the city worked with residents during the past year and tried to be a good steward of taxpayer money.

    The report, obtained by the Times in advance, doesn't mention events of the past year such as the resignation of former City Manager Mike Roberto, accidents in the roundabout or the failure of this summer's downtown redevelopment referendum.

    "I want to show people how the day-to-day services to our residents occurred despite any other controversies that the city has faced," Horne said. "It's saying to residents, taxpayers, stakeholders, "This is what we've accomplished in the past year.' "

    Clearwater residents can tune in at 6 p.m. to C-VIEW-Ch.15, to watch Horne's presentation, or they can find a color booklet that recaps the city's past year in Thursday's St. Petersburg Times. The booklet, which has been produced in past years, is considered advertising and was written by city officials.

    The city spent about $24,300 to produce the booklet, which also will be available to residents for free at city government offices.

    Horne, who was named interim manager after Roberto's departure, said he does not think it is presumptuous to try to start a tradition before getting the permanent job.

    "The commissioners told me when I took over that it was important that I keep things moving, that I don't hold back, press forward and do the things that I think are appropriate and in the city's interests," Horne said. "I think what I'm doing is consistent with that guidance and is sound management procedure."

    Horne also said that the annual report was required under the city charter, which states that the city manager shall "submit to the commission at the first regular meeting in September of each year and make available to the public a comprehensive report on the financial and administrative activities of the city."

    While Horne and the city's public communications department worked on the annual report, the city has been delayed in moving forward with its city manager search.

    Originally, the city was going to hire an executive search firm to start the search in November, but that won't happen now until January, because of scheduling conflicts in reviewing bids.

    Residents who take time to watch Horne's address this week will see video clips of city residents playing croquet and boarding a sailboat. They also will get a primer on the past fiscal year's $79.9-million operating budget and a litany of other facts about local government.

    For instance, the city saw $190-million worth of new construction projects last year, while 1,000 new jobs were created, according to Clearwater estimates.

    Also noted: The city's fire and medical services went on 22,000 calls last year, while the internal auditing department recovered $1.4-million in money owed to the city. The library made 1.2-million loans of materials. Beach lifeguards took an estimated 31,246 "preventative actions." Public services maintained 500 miles of sidewalks and 304 miles of paved roads.

    The video presentation also highlights the upcoming construction of a new Philadelphia Phillies spring-training stadium, a new bridge to Clearwater Beach, a new main library and several pending beach redevelopment projects.

    The booklet includes comments from the mayor and commission expressing optimism. "Clearwater is like a gem with many facets, and each of those facets, or aspects, are what contribute to its sparkle," the report says. "From our neighborhoods to our beaches, we must continue to keep our shine and polish."

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