City of Homestead

Homestead City Council met in regular session Wednesday January 16 and named Councilman Jon Burgess Vice Mayor.

Nominated by Councilwoman Jenifer Bailey, Burgess was elected unanimously. New Mayor Stephen Shelley said due to his extensive work travel schedule, he was anxious to have a succession plan in place for the City.

Councilman Elvis Maldonado had nominated Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough for the position. She declined however and deferred to Burgess because he is term limited in November.

“He’s served in this position before,” said Fairclough, “and I have full confidence in his ability.”

A City attorney set out the process for filling the position for Mayor Stephen Shelley’s underlying Council seat. A newspaper advertisement requesting resumes of interested parties was published the week before. January 28 is the deadline for consideration. Council members have the opportunity to interview applicants for the open seat. A majority vote of the six elected Council members is required for approval.

Council consented to the appointment of Mayor Shelley as the Homestead representative on the County’s Transportation Planning Organization governing board, replacing former Mayor Jeff Porter.

At the Council meeting, City Manager George Gretsas narrated a video presentation on recycling trash as it pertains to Homestead. He said there would be no interruption in collection. However, there are disposal issues requiring the City to renegotiate its solid waste contract.

The NBC video explained China is no longer accepting recyclable trash. Disposal which used to produce some revenue or cost nothing, was now being quoted at $100 per ton for disposal. Waste Management of Florida agreed to provide the City’s recycling service. A new recycling fee of $2.78 monthly raises the usual residential cost of $33.90 for garbage solid waste.

The new contract will cost the City an additional $330,000 this year. Council was told the service will be evaluated every six months.

Council also agreed to a revision in professional services for the City’s Development Services Department. There were only two bidders on Homestead’s RFP to provide permitting and inspection services for the Department. The current contract expires January 31.

The two companies were separated by one point after an internal evaluation. The City Manager proposed accepting both bids for a cost of $1.4 million. 

In answer to Council’s questions, staff explained staffing would be

selected from both companies for approximately twenty-five inspections a day. Work would be interfaced through existing computer connections and tracked by GPS. Councilman Burgess said the process is common practice for


A small grant of $65,000 was accepted from FDOT for the preliminary design and engineering of the Biscayne Everglades Greenway Trail. Six miles of the Trail are within Homestead City limits. No matching funds are required for this state grant.

Council approved the first reading of an ordinance appointing two alternate members to the Planning and Zoning Board. The alternates have the right to vote after a qualifying event, such Board member absences that cause a quorum failure.

Council also approved an amendment to the Police Officers Retirement Plan. The change permits retired officers to be hired on a part-time basis without affecting their retirement plan service credits. City staff said there was no financial impact to the City.

City Manager Gretsas offered the annual legislative priority packet for consideration. City Department heads were asked to include their capital improvement items that are unfunded or require additional funding.

The draft presented totaled over $58 million for all projects with an additional $30 million wish list for new power generation Mayor Shelley raised the issue of narrowing the long list of projects to critical items. “This conversation should have been held a month ago with our lobbyists,” said the Mayor. “We’re behind year after year. It’s critical to our success to plan earlier and plan better.”

Council Burgess said, “The legislators we elect should be made to come to workshops on this. They should help us and guide us.”

“The problem is our list is not in alignment with (legislative) leadership,” he continued. “When we narrow the list down, we lose out on funding. Our lobbyists should be up there early telling us what the legislators will be working on.”

Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough placed two items in the packet, $250,000 for breast cancer screening for uninsured women under the age of 40 and $100,000 for senior citizen activities. “Considering we provide programs for our senior citizens, I request that item be removed because we have something in place,” she said. “Breast cancer screening is important for younger women who can’t otherwise get it.”

Council talked about prioritizing legislative requests in the future. Rather than further delay the process, it was decided to send the packet as is with edits suggested from the open discussion.

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