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Council Tentatively Adopts Tax Rate for 2019

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Posted: Friday, August 3, 2018 1:00 am

A six-member Homestead City Council met on Wednesday with Vice Mayor Stephen Shelley presiding.

Council approved a tentative tax rate for 2019 that remains the same as the current year. Proposed millage rate of $5.9215 per thousand dollars of assessed value is calculated on total property of $2.857 billion according to City manager George Gretsas.

The resolution also cites a debt service for obligation bonds of $2.857 which is a slight reduction (0.0275) from last year.

The yield for the Community Redevelopment Agency from taxes would be $16 million. State law caps municipal millage rates at $10 per thousand.

A public hearing on the City budget and taxation is scheduled for September 12 at 5:30 pm in Council chambers. A final hearing set for September 26 at 5:00 pm prior to the October 1, 2018 start of the new budget year.

Councilman Stephen Shelley noted the rate has been kept even or was reduced over the last eight years.

Council approved a public art installation on private property at the Palace Gardens Retirement Center (“Palace”). Homestead’s Public Art Ordinance requires that one-half percent of every building project’s value be contributed for public art.

The Palace installed a flowered mosaic tile floor valued at $127,000 that exceeds its required $75,000 contribution for an approximately $15 million project.

“Is the norm of public art to be put on private property?” asked Councilman Jon Burges. Staff explained funds were escrowed for art that had to be used or relinquished to the City. Placement on private property is allowed with Council approval as long as there is public access. A sign on Campbell Drive identifies the building as a public art facility.

“The building was completed over two years ago so I went to the facility to test the system,” said Councilman Larry Roth. “I told the guard I was there to view the art and he let me in, surprisingly. It’s a very beautiful place with art throughout the facility.”

Staff proposed a Code amendment eliminating the requirement that local businesses be re-inspected every five years to renew business tax receipt licenses. A re-inspection rule was adopted in 2010 and confirmed in 2013 but no other County municipality has such a rule. The City’s fee of $105 each for a mechanical, electrical and plumbing inspection would apply only to new applicants. Council approved the amendment.

The City periodically sweeps monies from the confiscated property fund into the City budget. “Forfeiture money is required to be used for law enforcement purposes,” said City Manager Gretsas. The proposal was to incorporate $1,698,963 in seized funds as 2017-2018 revenue, which Council adopted.

Two resolutions were approved that as required by HUD in administering the City’s community development block grant (“CDBG”) program. A consolidated five-year plan was agreed to and due to be filed by the HUD deadline of August 18. The CDBG citizen participation plan was updated as required by federal law.

“There were some homeowners associations that were not included,” said Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough. “Why was that?” The City’s HUD consultant explained that 137 groups and agencies were on the participation list used by the City and resident groups can always be added. Councilwoman Fairclough asked them to update the list and reach out to new groups, too.

In other business, Council approved the purchase of needed city equipment with discounted leasing through a new vendor - City National Capital Finance. The equipment included three new police vehicles, a bucket truck and two side-loader trucks, which together with two mechanical bar screens for the wastewater treatment facility, totaled $1,764,119.

Two items were deferred for the August Council agenda, the second-read ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries and a resolution opposing the commutation of sentence for the convicted murderer of local resident Doc John DeMilly.

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