Homestead City Council met by phone at 3 pm Wednesday April 22 to comply with the COVID-19 social distancing requirement.
The meeting was televised live on the City access channel and was covered by the City web site at www.cityofhomestead.com
Public comments were accepted by email at email@example.com.
Comments could be submitted from noon Tuesday April 21 until thirty minutes after the Council meeting ended. Submissions were limited to 300 words and were included in the minutes.
Council’s agenda was limited to items necessary for functions of City
government meaning there was no consideration of land use issues.
Council approved a 27% credit for the City’s electric users, both residential and commercial, to be reflected in May bills. The service credit was funded through power cost adjustments due to significantly lower fuel costs. The utility reported on emergency relief measures due to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, including no disconnects due to nonpayment and waiver of all late fees.
The City administration asked for approval of an agreement with MUJER, the non-profit agency assisting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The memo of understanding is for the Homestead Energy Lend a Hand
Program (HELP) providing utility bill help for eligible families of up to $200 per year. The prior City partnership had been with WeCare that is no longer active.
The program is funded by the City from donations thru people’s energy bills. The Homestead utility is asking customers to donate the 27% credit in their May bills to HELP.
City Manager Cate McCaffrey said there was currently a fund balance of about $7000. “The program stopped about ten years ago, but it was a very good program at the time,” she said.
Mayor Steve Losner said the City has the means to get word out on the program. “You’ve done a very good job of putting out information in this time of crisis,” he told the City Manager.
Council approved the measure unanimously.
Council also approved a blanket resolution for the City Manager to seek any grants or assistance available to the City in connection with the COVID-19 emergency and to establish the City budget as needed.
“The federal government is making money available to cities to combat the virus,” said Manager McCaffrey. “Current procedures require each grant to be brought to Council. Due to current limits, grant funds are disappearing rapidly, requiring the City to respond quickly to maximize funding.”
The City Manager was also authorized to apply for financial assistance as part of the Hurricane Irma Rebuild Infrastructure grant. This grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is funded for $100 million for local governments to promote public safety, conduct mitigation planning,
complete storm repairs, and improve local infrastructure.
Council approved spending for a feasibility study on the Biscayne Everglades Greenway Trail. The City has identified the top three-ranked firms for the study. The money is part of an FDOT grant for $65,000 for the 23 mile trail between national parks, 6 miles of which is within Homestead along east Mowry Drive.
Councilmember Larry Roth asked when construction would start on something in planning since 2008 that would be a benefit to the City. The City Manager explained there is an east and a west segment to the project, with a design already approved for the east segment. She said the project is supposed to start building next year for both the City and County portions.
The U.S. Soccer Federation Foundation gave a $100,000 grant to Homestead to build a mini-pitch field and program at Roby George Park. The grant was part of the first 400 pitches of 1000 that the Federation plans to build across the US by 2026. Council gave their support by approving the subject agreement.
Homestead has six City water wells in its utility system but got $300,000 in grant money from the Florida DEP to construct a seventh well to meet anticipated water demand. The new well at Harris Field would provide redundancy only to the system and not be used to augment water service withdraw.
Council approved spending $87,500 of the grant for engineering
design services for this project.
Council also approved a bid for $26,551 to replace police body armor that reached its five-year life span.
An electrical protection system coordination study costing $34,600 was
approved under capital improvements for the City’s Renaissance
Electrical Substation to establish the system’s reliability for future growth.