BELLEAIR - Micah Maxwell, who had been assistant to the fired Steve Cottrell, will become the town manager succeeding his former boss and inheriting, with that, some tough problems.
A big one is the police department, a problem the town shares with nearby Belleair Beach.
When a proposal was put forth to combine the police departments of Belleair, Belleair Bluffs and Belleair Beach it groundlooped immediately. The Bluffs, policed by the Sheriff's Office, wanted nothing to do with the idea.
In the meantime, the police department still has no chief. When the organization of that department fell apart some months ago, Largo stepped in with command and leadership help.
Since then, Largo has bowed out and the Sheriff's Office is providing direction.
Mayor George Mariani and a couple of commission members favor contracting with the Sheriff's Office for police services.
The situation is similar to that of Belleair Beach. If both municipalities did opt to go to the sheriff (which would make sense in every aspect) the PCSO would have a solid block from Indian Rocks Beach to Belleair in its direct policing authority.
The efficiencies of this are obvious and the cities would save a ton of money.
But old ways die hard and the tradition in Belleair, where residents have always treated the police as household cavalry ("my trash can is rolling around in the street, please pick it up immediately"), as well as Belleair Beach is to hold on to the police department, apparently out of some misguided sense of autonomy.
As has been the case in Belleair Beach, Belleair police officers have applied with the sheriff for deputy jobs over issues of pay, training and career advancement.
A contract with the Sheriff's Office would save, it is estimated, between $400,000 and $600,000 a year, but is opposed by a core of residents who want their private force.
Back in July the commission voted to put the issue on the November ballot as a referendum but instead the polling has turned into mailing to registered voters who are supposed to give their input before the commission votes on whether to go to the sheriff or not.
Residents have been advised that any voters who don't receive a card in the mail can pick one up at the town hall upon proof of residency.
One household received a card addressed to the man who lives there but not to his wife and a second one addressed to the previous owner who has not been in the area in the past two years.
In a further mark of silliness, a resident pointed out, the cards that are to be returned to the town hall are numbered, the address is required but the name of the individual is optional.
There are other unsettled feelings in the town. One resident recently recounted problems over the water system as an example of how things have deteriorated in what was once a very efficiently operating municipality.
Much of the trouble and discomfort with some residents have come about since the efforts to have the town be the owner of and deliverer of electricity.
That idea was pushed forward over the past several years by Cottrell but came acropper and Progress Energy remains the supplier of power.
Last month, residents got a notice that the water supplied by the town had failed a quality test, but not to worry, the town said, the problem is not critical and it can be fixed.
Then, as one resident describes it, a door knob hanger showed up and described how the town's public works department would be flushing the fire hydrants between the hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. from September 18 through Sept 22.
This operation, it was explained, was to help clean the water mains and could cause rusty water. Residents were advised not to use water during the flushing hours.
One resident, a business woman of no mean success, raised questions on this kind of inconvenience - "Don't use the water between 8 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon for five days in a row?"
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