Monday, 08 June 2009 09:57

Clearwater City Council Discusses Potential Police Cutbacks in East Gateway Neighborhood May 21,2009

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The East Gateway Neighborhood in Clearwater, FloridaClearwater, FL -- On a rainy Thursday evening in late May, concerned citizens from the East Gateway neighborhood of Clearwater came together in the City Chambers to speak out regarding potential cutbacks to the police contingent in their neighborhood.

The City of Clearwater is facing $7 to $13 million dollars worth of budget cuts.  The City of Clearwater commissioned a matrix efficiency study to find out any areas of potential improvement or cost reduction. This study reported the police department is run for the most part efficiently, but could save by reducing the number of bike team staff as well as eliminating the Beach Walk team, despite the fact that Clearwater already has the lowest officer-to-1,000 citizens ratio for any tourist destination city in Florida and that crime in the beach area has been significantly reduced.

However, even if the city does not cut back on the police, the city must make cuts. During the same city council meeting, citizens also spoke against cuts to the North Greenwood library and complained about the service’s already inconvenient hours. The possibility of shutting down libraries, or cutting back rec-center programs leads to the question posed by Mayor Hibbard: “Does Clearwater want to be a city with just a policeThe East Gateway Business & Neighbors Association department and a fire department?” Having a large police department, but no libraries or city art, is unlikely to increase the quality of life in the city, no matter how safe it feels. It would be a shame to cut those programs that do increase quality of life and draw both visitors and new residents to the area. 

This is a tough issue for city officials who face a budget crunch that will, unfortunately, require them to make cuts somewhere. While this is bound to disappoint someone, whatever they decide to do they are working to the best of their ability to try to implement the will of the voters, save money and continue to make Clearwater a “nice place to live, work and play.”

At that Thursday’s city council meeting, no conclusion was drawn. The city must first determine what their final budget actually is. However, one thing Councilwoman Carlen Peterson did seem decided about: no more costly efficiency studies!

We’d like to hear what you have to say on this issue—leave your comments on our comment section below.

Read 1565 times Last modified on Monday, 15 June 2009 11:46

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