Hoping for a Better Tomorrow!
By Kari Rogers
BELLEAIR BLUFFS -Motions were quickly passed, business seemed to be going great, and everyone seemed content at the Belleair Bluffs city council meeting Monday evening. If you were there, you might have even gotten the idea that the meeting might adjourn early so folks would have the time to go and enjoy one of those fabulous shamrock milkshakes.
That was prior to the city council conversation on the fire budget. According to city clerk, Debra Sullivan, the budget that the city has to work with is exactly $1,364,805. Some thought that the budget seemed to be a bit high. It was suggested that you could always trim the budget down if needed, but that it's not possible to go the other way. Since the market is not currently at its best, it appeared important to the commissioners that taxpayer's money is spent in the appropriate manner.
Commissioners Russo and Shimkus expressed concerns of costly grievances being filed by a fireman in the past. Currently, the grievances are being reviewed. According to City Clerk, Debra Sullivan "a grievance can end up costing up to $10,000.00." That is money that comes out of the taxpayer's wallets when city funds are budgeted for those types of contingencies. Those who opposed the grievances presented by the fireman concur that paying for them is a true waste of money. It was expressed by Commissioner Shimkus that since there were "no closing of public departments, the fire workers seemed to be doing well." He explained that hard times economically, not only had to do with Amendment One but also with the market in general. Still others opined that if this money had not had be taken out of city funds for these grievances, the money might have been able to be used for things such as better equipment, and improving the current fire trucks.
It is possible that city revenues would improve if the city's fire inspections could be done for less money. Presently, these inspections are done by the city of Largo for a $160,000 cost. However, Commissioner Shimkus hopes that this price will be "offset" soon. He further explained that Largo might agree to continue to do fire inspections for $75,000, but that $65,000 of that money was going towards inspecting the "Biltmore Hotel!" On the contrary, if the developers, or the businesses had to pay the, $65,000 instead, this amount of money could be "freed up" for other city expenses.
Further discussions about these issues are among the items to be discussed in future city council meetings. As for how the money in the fire budget will be used in the future, only time will tell.
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