A Florida former mayor resigned abruptly earlier this week because he disagreed with the “reckless” way the city council wanted to spend tax dollars, he told Fox News.
“We’ve had very little debt, but the spreadsheets that we were looking at this past Monday showed a number of projects and the funding shortfall was a quarter of a billion dollars,” former Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said. “Local government and government in general needs to be very careful with their resources and also be more creative in the way we solve problems.”
Hibbard, who as mayor voted like a councilmember, was the lone city council voice who opposed constructing a $90 million city hall and municipal building. Clearwater, already facing a quarter billion dollar shortfall for other projects, should be more careful with its resources, Hibbard said.
CLEARWATER FORMER MAYOR SAYS SPENDING PRIORITIES LED TO ABRUPT RESIGNATION:
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“I’m concerned where the city is going because this is simple math and we’re not doing very well on the test,” Hibbard said at a budget meeting Monday. “In good conscience for my family, for my own health and other things, I can’t remain the mayor.”
The initial price tag on the new city hall and municipal building was $40 million but that eventually more than doubled, Hibbard said. With typical construction cost overruns, he estimated the price could reach $100 million.
Hibbard, who works full-time as a financial advisor and wealth manager, served as mayor from 2005 to 2012 and was re-elected to another four-year term in 2020. He had already announced that he would not seek re-election in 2024.
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“I don’t want anybody freaking out right now about this,” council member David Allbritton said after Hibbard’s resignation. “We’ve got enough people up here to make the decisions and keep everything on track, and that’s what we plan to do today.”
Kathleen Beckman, another Clearwater councilmember, told Fox News the Monday meeting “was simply to give direction to staff about budget priorities” and not a formal vote on allocating funds.
Still, Hibbard said the new construction project is not necessary.
“It’s a matter of wants and needs, and this new city hall is not a need. It’s simply a want,” Hibbard said. “Building a new facility I think is reckless.”
The Clearwater City Council has 30 days to appoint a new mayor with a majority vote, according to the city charter.
To watch the full interview with Hibbard, click here.
Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.