Russo Dissatisfied With Job of City Attorney in Bluffs
by Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - Commissioner Bob Russo lashed out at the performance of the city attorney at Monday night's workshop meeting of the City Commission, citing incomplete tasks by Tom Trask.
None of Russo's colleagues raised a word in defense of Trask and by their silence apparently assented in Russo's assessment of Trask. Trask was not present at the meeting. Shauna Morris was sitting in.
"We tell what we want done, and it doesn't seem to get done," Russo, a veteran member of the commission said. Russo cited work that has not been done on a proposed antenna ordinance and roof ordinance, among other things.
"If this continues I think we should look for another attorney," Russo said.
This enlivened an otherwise rather prosaic meeting in which the commission heard a presentation on the city's health insurance program and a long presentation by a consultant on the city's state-mandated comprehensive plan updating.
At several recent Saturday work sessions, commission members have gone over things like land uses changes in the plan. A couple more such sessions are planned, according to Mayor Chris Arbutine.
Although the commission had a discussion scheduled on its agenda for the proposed millage rate for the upcoming fiscal year 2008, City Clerk Debra Sullivan said that she was still receiving information that related to tax matters and the budget.
The Legislature recently laid down new guidelines for city budgeting and the Property Appraiser's Office has had to do a lot of revising.
With all this incomplete information, it is impossible to proceed with a municipal budget.
The commission agreed to keep the increase in the fire department budget at a very low .8 percent. Arbutine said this action would not affect personnel costs, but things like a fund for new equipment would be cut back slightly.
With the city facing an increase of 9.7 percent in police costs from the Sheriff's Office very little hope was seen for any relief, although top PSCO officials have been made aware of Belleair Bluff's unhappiness in a $37,000-plus increase in the current cost of $382,060.
The city will seek bids to drain Dolphin Lake, a privately owned pond, but warned residents whose property abuts that the responsibility of maintaining the area in the future will be theirs.
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