Bluffs Fire Department Squabble to be Investigated By Fire Chief
by Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - According to Mayor Chris Arbutine, Belleair Bluffs fire chief, Karry Bell, will hold a formal investigation into charges made by a Bluffs fire lieutenant that have been disputed.
Commissioner Dave Shimkus insisted at Monday's night's commission meeting that an investigation be held into statements made by Lt. Chuck Barlet of the fire department.
Bell is Largo's acting fire chief. Through an agreement between Belleair Bluffs and Largo, Largo serves as the administrator of the Bluffs department.
A local tabloid newspaper reported that Barlet said that Belleair Bluffs' city clerk, Debra Sullivan, had stepped into a situation over some grievances the fire department had.
The tabloid reported that Barlet said Sullivan ordered him to go through her rather than the Largo fire administration with complaints. He said, according to the tabloid, that Sullivan came to the Bluffs fire station several times and said she was "your administration."
Barlet's assertions were described by Arbutine Tuesday as totally false and this is what has triggered the investigation by Bell.
In other fire department developments, Commissioner Hunt Brand who handles fire department business, is working to coordinate the department's transition to its new Advanced Life Support role.
The city's move to buy properties on Bayway Avenue for the expansion of the fire department into possibly a new station was discussed.
Belleair Bluffs wants the property and owners put a $1.4 million price tag on it. The city countered with a $1 million offer, Arbutine said, even though the appraised value was $550,000.
Arbutine said his reasoning was that the city needs the property, and that its offer constitutes a fair price.
But commissioners disagreed Monday night. Some wanted to go as low as $600,000 for the property. They reached final agreement on an offer of $877,000.
The only other resident of the street, which is adjacent to the city hall property, is Carol Cartwright and her husband. She is a former member of the commission.
The commission honored Paul Kuykendall, a resident, for his many years of involvement and contributions to the city.
An interlocal agreement with Pinellas County, which will save the city $4,000 to $5,000 a year in maintenance costs, was approved. It will give the county control of the only set of traffic lights in Belleair Bluffs, at Indian Rocks Road and West Bay Drive.
The light will be part of the county's Advanced Traffic Management System/Intelligent Transportation Systems.
An agreement with a construction company for street improvements projects has been held up because Robert David, the public works director, reported that a broken pipe on Dolphin Avenue needs to be repaired, the cost of which may be as much as $250,000.
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