Fire Station Goes 'As Is' to Largo, Arbutine Asserts
By Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - Dealing with a multi-million dollar contract in engaging Largo for fire services and then facing some nit-picking by Largo bean counters on some final arrangements became too much for Mayor Chris Arbutine at Monday night's workshop meeting of the City Commission.
Belleair Bluffs is ready to sign the fire and rescue agreement but what exasperated Arbutine - and he made no bones about being perturbed - was some haggling over some relatively minor expenses involved in Largo taking over the fire station building.
Guardians of Largo's precious dollars apparently wanted the Bluffs to bear the costs of updating certain equipment in the building like an ice machine and refrigerator.
"No way," Arbutine said.
Largo takes the building as is, as far he is concerned, Arbutine said.
"They're responsible for everything," he said. "Why they want to make an issue of some relatively very minor expenses is beyond me. We're talking about a multi-million dollar deal here."
Largo's fire and rescue boss, Chief Mike Wallace heard Arbutine out and said he understood and will carry the word back to Largo City Hall.
The contention of some details is not going to upset what has been in the works for months, namely Largo taking over fire and rescue responsibility for Belleair Blufs. Expanding its department means a lot to Largo and the word is that any rough spots now will quickly be smoothed over.
In other action, the commission put one of its members, Jack Nazario, in charge of the traffic study update which centers on access to West Bay Drive where it meets the new causeway bridge.
Condominium residents there have an access problem and the general thinking is that a traffic light is needed. The idea is to persuade county officials of this need.
Plans were set in place for notification of the March 9, 2010 city election. The seats of Commissioners Hunt Brand and Joe Barkley are up.
Brand has given no indication whether he will run.
Barkley is serving out the one-year remaining on what had been Dave Shimkus's term. Shimkus resigned last year to unsuccessfully oppose Arbutine for mayor.
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