With Bridge on Schedule, Bluffs Urges Citizen to Avoid Litigation
by Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - At its workshop meeting Monday night, the Belleair Bluffs City Commission managed to divert - at least for now - a possible threatened lawsuit by a citizen who wants an extended sea wall in connection with the construction of the new Belleair causeway and bridge.
The city's main concern is that there be no holdup in the construction of the project because of traffic and traveling concerns.
A lawsuit, that might include an injunction and thus work stoppage, would be disastrous.
The discussion came in the presentation by Tony Hornick, the county's project manager on the construction. Hornick reported, as he has elsewhere, that the bridge is ahead of schedule.
A resident of the Harbor Club insists that the sea wall be extended. Because this is an aesthetic touch, the city wants no involvement in that issue.
But to prevent any delay in the construction, it was agreed that Hornick and his people would look into all aspects and try to satisfy the citizen.
All that discussion took about 2 ½ hours in the meeting that began at 6 p.m. and went to 10:30.
Another hour or so was devoted to grievances that firefighters had brought. Apart from the merits of the grievances, a key aspect of the subject was the muddled chain of command through which complaints were being delivered.
"We drew a line in the sand and clearly defined what the procedure will be," Mayor Chris Arbutine said.
Largo is the administrator of the Belleair Bluffs Fire Department and firefighters were instructed that their lines of inquiry must go up through their superiors and to the chief in Largo.
In the matter of the fiscal 2008 budget, the commission is looking at establishing a 3.997 millage rate. The current rate is 4.35 and the state guidelines prefer a 3.8343 rate.
With a referendum looming in January that could drastically affect ad valorem rates throughout the state, there is a justifiable fear of the future which is why the commission wants to go with the 3.997 rate.
A public hearing is set September 11 at 5:30 p.m. at which there will be more discussion. The final hearing on the budget is scheduled September 17, prior to the commission's regular meeting.
Frank Chivas, a Belleair Bluffs resident, and a well known restaurateur, was appointed to a vacancy on the Board of Adjustment.
With the resignation of Paul Kuykendall, who has been very active in city affairs for years, from the Fire Pension Board the city is looking for a replacement, preferably a person with experience in finances.
The city has a pending agreement to purchase land across Bayway from city hall property for a possible new fire station.
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