CLEARWATER - The Clearwater City Council appointed eleven citizens to the Budget Task Force during their work session on Tuesday.
The Task Force was conceived during the 2006/07 budget hearings in response to what some call a taxpayer revolt. An unprecedented number of property owners had pled for a reduction in Clearwater's millage rate in response to rapidly escalating assessed values of their properties and the resulting increases in taxes for non-homesteaded property.
Twenty-seven applicants volunteered for the Task Force, which the Council had earlier agreed should have nine or eleven members. The Council sought diversity in the group, wanting representation from the city's major neighborhoods, both residential and business property owners and a mix of ages.
Satisfying the Council's desire for a young member, Jesse Sherman was appointed, Mayor Frank Hibbard calling him a throw-in because of his qualifications. Sherman is a Junior at Calvary Christian, a founding Charter Board member of Clearwater's GOT GOV youth involvement initiative.
Each Councilmember then nominated one member, Carlen Petersen naming Isay Gulley, John Doran appointing Jim Strictland, Bill Jonson offering Charles Rutz, Hoyt Hamilton naming Doug Williams and Hibbard appointing Nathan Hightower.
The remaining appointees were determined by a consensus of the Council, who struggled with the large number of quality applicants. During the discussion, Jonson said, "It's getting to the point that we have really good folks who are not going to be on this board." Joyce Martin, Herbert McLachlan , Bob Longenecker, Marty Altner and Joe Evich were added, bringing the Task Force to eleven members.
The Task Force will kick-off in December and provide the Council with their findings by February 2007, early enough to have an impact on the 2007/08 budget process. They will be charged with evaluating the city's budget and making recommendations on service cuts that could reduce the cost of city government as well as identifying services that should be improved.
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