CLEARWATER -- Call him "Hawkeye."
That is the role Councilmember Bill Jonson is playing on the City Council.
During the budget workshop last week, with him and his colleagues reviewing city spending plans for the future, he showed the eye and questioning of an accountant.
One of his council mates, John Doran, is lawyer and accountant, and Mayor Frank Hibbard is a money man, but it was Jonson who had questions on many subjects.
Clearwater's finances apparently are fine. Make no mistake about that.
The city is maintaining a 5.753 millage rate for the fourth straight year. Taxes have gone up, in terms of bottom line payment, because property values have gone up.
That millage rate is funding a budget of some $365 million but even with everything seemingly stable Jonson still raised questions about adding more than 30 new employees to the city's ranks.
City Manager Bill Horne, continuing a careful job, says that the added numbers are needed. He is not a reckless sort of fellow and in his five years or so running the city has proceeded carefully and prudently.
The fire department is adding personnel and Horne says aditional help is needed in the Planning Departement because of redevelopment in the city.
If Clearwater has a hallmark these days it is redevelopment. It is taking place at the beach and there are plans -- not fully green lighted -- for downtown.
Still, Jonson wants a streamlined city staff, with a close look given to areas where cuts can be made.
While Jonson was holding some feet to the fire last week, his council colleagues seemed satisfied that the requested increases were justified.
Jonson has been around a while. He knows taxpayers and voters like a guy who is playing watchdog with their money.
Budget hearings will take place tonight at city hall and next Thursday as well.
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