Bluffs-Largo Agreement On Fire All But Done Deal
By Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - The agreement for Largo to provide fire services for Belleair Bluffs is all but chiseled in stone - that will take place early next month - as the City Commission Monday night put the seal on a temporary agreement.
Officially, it's called a Memorandum of Understanding and contains the basic parameters of the agreement.
There never was any doubt that Largo would be the provider of fire suppression and EMS services when residents here voted on a referendum authorizing the commission to contract with an outside agency for such services.
Belleair at its meeting tonight is scheduled to give final approval to its similar agreement with Largo.
It was Belleair that began the ball rolling on what is developing into a scenario where all the fire services south of Clearwater and north of Walsingham Road and westward to the Intracoastal Waterway are being supplied by Largo.
Going with Largo became economically mandatory when Belleair decided to end its relationship with the Bluffs and contract with Largo. The price Belleair Bluffs will pay Largo is $244,000.
For the Bluffs to continue with its own fire department was unfeasible because of the tax burden that would have been loaded on Bluffs residents.
Mayor Chris Arbutine met with City Manager Mac Craig of Largo Wednesday morning to discuss pension matters regarding the Belleair Bluffs fire fighters.
Arbutine said he expected the outcome to be a "win-win" situation for both cities. Largo may take over the pension responsibilities but no actuarial study has been done yet.
One way or the other, Largo will ultimately take over the pensions because most of the firemen who were at the Bluffs department have been hired by Largo.
But if there is a glitch, Belleair Bluffs may have to come up with some money to supplement the pension fund.
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