City services are reliable, including trash pickup and recycling, stormwater and wastewater management (in most cases) and upgrades are routine. Steps are taken to protect information systems from attack. The police have detailed plans to respond to mass violence, and officers carry kits to respond to opioid overdoses. Problems include recent mismanagement in parks and recreation and traffic safety issues. I oppose the toilet-to-tap water plan because it raises health concerns. Downtown redevelopment has stalled, which is in part due to council actions. Violent crime should be reduced. Though there is not significant friction between residents and police, community policing in low-income neighborhoods can be improved. In a successor, I would look for municipal government experience, timely completion of projects within budget, strong communication and interpersonal skills, succession planning, workforce development, responsiveness to community concerns, and support for diversity.
Bill has been a very steady leader who has never compromised the integrity of our city. He has offered a great deal of stability due to his tenure with a wealth of institutional knowledge. I think at this point we need a city manager that is a change agent. Some departments and personnel have forgotten that we are a service organization that is supposed to follow our ordinances but also help residents and businesses achieve their objectives. The organizational structure needs to be altered to spread the responsibility more evenly across assistant city managers.
A. Mr. Horne cannot be faulted for the council’s decision (on Dec. 1, 2016 by a vote of 3 to 2) to not set manager objectives. Barring objectives and priorities established by the council, the manager performance criteria can be whatever he wants it to be. B. During my time on the City Council, I annually prepared a written performance appraisal. These documents are public record. A summary of those reports would show that during my first two terms of office I saw a high degree of success. During the last two terms I saw a clear lack of urgency and accountability for schedule completion. C. On Dec. 1, 2016, the City Council voted by a vote of 3 to 2 to discontinue the policy requirement for City Manager objectives, and a connection between the strategic plan and the annual Clearwater budget. At the same time the use of citywide values were eliminated. D. The bi-annual Clearwater National Citizen Survey identified substantial numbers of ratings lower than the average compared to our benchmark communities. Clearwater clearly needs to do better for its residents.
I would like to find someone with local knowledge. But, I am not opposed to searching farther if we cannot find a good replacement locally. I think Bill Horne has done fine for what he has had to work with, but there are some instances where I disagreed with his policies.
While I believe him to be a good man, we must do a nationwide search to find a city manager that can ensure that the waste and theft that has gone on in some city departments will be stopped through effective leadership and oversight. We need a vision for the future that treats all of our neighborhoods equally and gives people hope for the future. We can't allow the over-development we see on the beach to become the new normal for our downtown and the waterfront stretching out to Dunedin. And we need someone who won't be swayed when Tom Cruise suddenly pops up at his door to schmooze him/her as happened in 2003 when Cruise knocked on the door of Tampa's then-mayor Pam Iorio. The next city manager should discontinue holding clandestine meetings with David Miscavige.
Mr. Horne has been an integral part in the success, growth and management of our city. His long tenured legacy should be appreciated and applauded. Mr. Horne has identified his desire to retire for several years and during this continued period of uncertainty has presented citizens situations of questionable accountability, financial mismanagement and a fractured and blurry city vision moving into the next decade. A national search should begin today, and its vital to have a smooth and seemless transition of leadership between managers. Obvious qualities begin with being respectful, trustworthy, ethical and posessing integrity. Active listening and effective communication skills are vital along with compassion. Additional needed qualities are a visionary yet practical and hardworking strength and the ability to make tough decisions about the city's future with a willingness to solve complex problems. He/she should have skills in addressing financial and budget issues, organizational/staff concerns, infrastucture, environmental preservation and the wellbeing of the citizenry.
Mr. Horne has been public servant for many years and is considering retirement. He loves the city of Clearwater and my expectation is that he will work with the incoming City Council to give the community clarity on his plans soon so that there can be an orderly and smooth transition to new leadership. Our next city manager should be a visionary leader that guides us into a new era of economic growth and continued improvement of our quality of life. They should expect excellence in every city department and be consistently benchmarking against the best cities across the United States and looking for innovative and creative solutions to community challenges. We need a proactive leader who will negotiate and work hard for all of the citizens of Clearwater. Our next city manager should have a proven record of being an outstanding steward of public funds, assets and resources and for making local government efficiency and productivity a high priority.
I admire our city manager for all that he has accomplished for our city and its residents. His successor should posses ALL the skills necessary to fulfill our budgetary mandates while assuring every penny spent and every penny coming in is properly accounted for.
Bill Horne has served the city of Clearwater well. His successor must be innovative, creative and collaborative. The manager will need to be able to work with a diverse council and achieve consensus.
On our city website, the job description for city manager includes 12 bullet points and additional descriptors. One initiative I have been championing for a while now is to have accountability and transparency in our city government. It is imperative that our (city manager) have annual measurable goals and written evaluations; currently there are none. Because of this, it’s hard to access the performance of our (city manager), Mr. Horne. How has he been performing related to those 12 bullet points? We just don’t have measurable data. Yes, we have been voted “best beach” by a national organization. We have a vibrant tourism economy, but we also have an affordable housing crisis and we need more industry and higher wage jobs. Our poverty level in Clearwater is higher than the county average. We are lagging far behind on sustainability initiatives. We have a downtown that needs revitalization and a major park project with a huge price tag (Imagine Clearwater) that our residents are skeptical of. It’s imperative that we hire a (city manageer) who can handle the unique challenges we face in Clearwater. I believe a (city manager) candidate should have experience leading a city, preferably a city with a strong tourism economy of our size or larger. He/she should demonstrate skills in diplomacy, in delegating responsibilities, in oversight and accountability, in project management and in communication/people skills. It is imperative that the (city manager) help the council develop the strategic plan, and its short/long term goals, because he/she will be responsible for developing, managing and evaluating the administrative programs that are responsible for reaching those goals. Finally, the (city manager) needs to clearly articulate the opportunity cost related to choosing one policy direction over another.
City Manager Bill Horne has done an admirable job in administering the city of Clearwater these past 20 years. He is to be commended. In his replacement, I would look for decisiveness, calmness, energy, ability to inspire those 2,000 employees under him/her. Executive leadership experience and ability also important. Need an experienced city manager to replace and experienced city manager. An ability to work with the City Council a must. We will have a new city manager and city attorney soon, and with the handling of an annual budget of approximately half a billion dollars, I'd like to add my vital experience on the City Council these past four years, in the choosing of the replacements and watching over our funds. When I was elected in 2016, two of my opponents (Scott Thomas and Kathleen Beckman) weren't even residents of Clearwater; my third opponent (Bud Elias) led the ill-fated strong mayor effort in 2018 that was convincingly rejected by the voters.
Bill Horne has done a good job on what he was mandated to do: maintain the status quo and eliminate the possibilities of issues that would negatively impact the city of Clearwater. I look for his successor to be mindful of the opportunities that lie ahead for the city of Clearwater and to work closely with the council in terms of initiatives and possibilities that will make Clearwater an even more desired location to call home.
There have been many accomplishments that Mr. Horne has had over his career with the city. He should be complimented for them. In the next city manager, we need someone who will hold all of city employees to the highest ethical standard. We cannot allow for a repeat performance on the issues that left our Parks and Recreation Department losing thousands of dollars.