Belleair Beach - Mayor Rudy Davis got the full backing of the City Council at Monday night's meeting in his plan to write a letter to Sheriff Jim Coats protesting Coats attempting to hire away Belleair Beach police officers.
Davis indicated that Coats is actively recruiting Belleair Beach officers, some of whom, he said, were turned down by the Sheriff's Office when they applied for jobs in the past.
Already, Ernie Armistead, former police chief here, is with the Sheriff's Office having decamped at the end of August.
With all the controversy surrounding the police department whose union representative is still in negotiations with the city, there is talk of putting the question of abolishing the department to a referendum in the March election.
But action on this was tabled this week.
Davis said he thought this action was prudent because negotiations are still in progress.
Council members agreed except for Councilmember Lynn Rives who said he doesn't see the need for a referendum at all and thinks the city should restructure the police department.
Council members were in full agreement with Davis's idea of writing to Coats. They stressed that the letter should be very direct. Councilmember Mary Schoonover said that in the past the sheriff was quoted as saying, "He would not poach our officers."
In other action, the council approved an ordinance on code enforcement.
The process has been revamped and violations will be handled by a special master, similar to the procedure adopted by neighboring Belleair Bluffs.
City Manager Reid Silverboard said the new process is not a criticism of the resident filled code enforcement board's work, and explained that communities are increasingly turning to special masters for this purpose.
He said that a special master would provide objectivity in any proceedings. Davis said residents would not be pitted against residents.
The council also approved closing the gate at the city marina to prevent people coming over via Dan's Island boat docks and using the city's water, electricity, and garbage receptacles. Closing the gate, it was discussed, would also shut out potential insurance liability claims.
An amount of $12,000 was approved for landscape improvements in Belle Isle Park. Native Florida plants will be purchased with a donation from the Belle Isle garden club for the project.
At the suggestion of Davis, the council also decided to donate $500 to the Indian Shores Women's Club to offset shipping costs as the club continues with the Support Our Troops project, which collects and mails care packages to military personnel stationed in the mid east.
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