City of Homestead

City of Homestead

City Council met Tuesday afternoon May 12 with all members present by phone or in person.

Mayor Steve Losner asked if Council would agree to resume the development moratorium workshops postponed due to COVID-19 rules.

“It could be a remote meeting but I’d like to get that moving again,” he said.

Councilmembers Larry Roth and Erica Avila suggested Council wait until the public could attend because of the technology issues involved in holding meetings.

“It’s very distracting and interrupts our train of thought when we’re trying to speak over this platform,” said Councilmember Avila.

Councilmember Sean Fletcher said another platform might overcome the technical issues of hearing the speakers. City Manager Cate McCaffrey thought the system at the last Council meeting was better and Mayor Losner agreed.

Mayor Losner said the decision would be put off another week so everyone could be comfortable with the form of the meeting.

“Restrictions may loosen,” Mayor Losner said. “We’re waiting for some word from the county.”

The Mayor said the County submitted a reopening plan to the state and until it was approved, no details would be made public. The reason was so business owners don’t react based on inaccurate information.

The first item on Council’s ten piece agenda was spending $900,000 to

purchase furniture, fixtures and equipment (“FF&E”) for the Cybrarium.

Acceptance of $3.8 million in federal funding from HUD obligated the City to use the space for a public library. Items of the FF&E list were recommended by the City’s library consultants (L.S.&S.) for furnishings. Most fall below the $25,000 threshold so the usual procurement methods could be used. One sole source item, the automated laptop/tablet check-out station, is unique and exempt from competitive bidding.

The Council unanimously approved the resolution authorizing the manager to purchase all equipment from various vendors using the eligible cooperative purchasing agreements in the resolution. The $900,000 cost was already in the City’s budget.

Council approved the request for two grant applications to the state for the Cybrarium. The Department of State public library construction program grant for $500,000 requires an equal match. The Division of Cultural Affairs grant of $500,000 requires a City match of $1 million. Cybrarium construction costs qualify as the City’s share for matching funds purposes.

If any funds are granted, the grant awards must come back to Council for approval.

The CARES federal stimulus package provided $484,742 in additional funding for Homestead’s CDBG (community development block grant) program. Council approved an amendment to this year’s CDBG action plan to use the money for COVID-related expenses. The City Manager said the funds are already earmarked for extra administrative costs, utility bills, and police overtime due to COVID.

A related item approved by Council was HUD’s recommended waiver for CDBG citizen participation, reducing comment periods to five days from thirty.

Council agreed to spend $92,281 for three replacement vehicles for the police department, $90,000 as needed to purchase new refuse containers and compactors, and added $5,755 to pay for concrete slabs for its temporary busway bus stops.

The City attorney added a settlement item to the agenda. A family sued in 2017 when a palm tree fell on their car. The City’s landscaper agreed to indemnify the City for $75,000 in litigation costs for defending the suit. Council approved the settlement.

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