Bluffs' Decision on Fire Pensions Stalls Largo Action
By Leo Coughlin
LARGO - A discussion at the Belleair Bluffs City Commission workshop meeting Monday night apparently resulted in the withdrawal of an item on the agenda for Largo's City Commission Tuesday night.
Scheduled at the Largo meeting was a presentation by Kim Adams, the city's Finance Director, on pension benefits for fire fighters who had been members of the Belleair Bluffs department.
The Bluffs fire department was absorbed into Largo Fire & Rescue some months ago after Belleair disassociated itself from the Bluffs department and made the Belleair Bluffs department unworkable.
After both Belleair Bluffs and Belleair were subsumed into Largo Fire & Rescue, Bluffs fire fighters went to work for Largo, leaving the question of pension status for those workers.
Belleair Bluffs wanted Largo to take over and pay for accumulated pension benefits for those who had been their employees but Largo balked at this and wanted a contribution from Belleair Bluffs - more than the Bluffs wanted or was prepared to pay.
This is what the Bluffs' commission discussion Monday night centered on.
In simplest terms of what is a complex situation, the Bluffs commission does not want to pay Largo a contribution to take over pension benefits and is seeking a way to end its role in the pension situation by offering a cash settlement to the 12 fire fighters involved.
An authoritative Bluffs source said this would cost on the order of a little more than $1.5 million and Belleair Bluffs has something like $1.2 million already to finance this cost.
The offer has not yet been made and the Bluffs commission has not yet made a final decision on exactly what it will do. It is expected to make that decision at next Monday's regular meeting.
When the agenda subject came up Tuesday night at the City Commission meeting, Adams said that the item was being withdrawn. The conclusion is that the pension issue as it relates to Largo has become moot.
Otherwise, Largo's work session was routine and centered on presentation of a Strategic Plan update and a proposed amendment to an ordinance on reclaimed water service.
The commission heard an explanation of the city's urban forest master plan, which was generated from a study five years ago that in effect took a census of every tree in Largo.
In rhetoric that would surpass the exuberance of a Teutonic arbor worshipper, the plan would care for the "urban forest" and expand the city's tree canopy.
The program is funded from the city's tree trust fund, the money from which can only be spent for this purpose. There is about $750,000 in the fund, which is generated from impact funds.
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