Homeland City Council held a well-attended meeting Thursday, September 12.

During the meeting, the council heard from Public Works Superintendent Blair Nixon who stated the Country Clipper and Bush Hog are up and running and the gate for Waughtel Park has been received.

Also during the meeting, council members discussed a date for the community cleanup and assigning a team to watch the dumpsters to ensure only proper items are being disposed of. The Clean Community Board is still working on details.

Mayor Ouida Johnson updated members on the progress of roadwork currently underway. Potholes on Old Dixie Highway have been filled and the road has been layered. The project is about half way finished. Personal property on Broadway Street has been piled back on land belonging to the city. Officer Brad Todd stated he would speak with the property owner again in hopes to resolve the issue.

The council spoke about updates to the workplace policy and decided to continue to review the policy before acceptance. During this discussion, members made a motion to hire a laborer, after passing a drug test, and the motion passed unanimously.

Councilmember Lisa Nettles announced the city received a CDGB grant to add a new well and for improvements to the old well for use as a back up. The grant is for $532,044.00, but requires a 5% match from the city. The cost for the match needed will be paid with funds from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

A motion was passed unanimously to increase the building permit/inspection fees from $10.00 to  $100.00 for structures 500 square-feet or below, anything larger will cost 20¢ per sq. ft. The cost of inspections for moving mobile homes will also go up to $100.00. 

Changes to the 2020 budget were discussed. Updates will need to be made due to the addition of the grant for the new well. Once the updates are made, the budget will be advertised in the Herald. This will be the first time Homeland has had a budget over $1,000,000.00. The city’s goal is to alleviate the stretching of funds. The budget will show a padded amount for maintenance and repairs for the water system, which will be paid off in three to four years, giving the city an extra $25,000.00 a year.

During the meeting, proposals were made on what the SPLOST funds would go towards. The council accepted proposal one, which will cover the purchase of a new police truck, a Cushman flatbed, the money for the grant percentage, and to help the purchase of lawn mowers on credit, to make a balloon payment in 2021. However, a unanimous motion was made to begin the purchase of the mowers prior to 2020. Other options for SPLOST funds included updated technology for the police department. These upgrades have been included in the 2020 budget. 

The council announced they are still waiting for the millage rate from the county, but do not expect an increase in taxes.

Over the last year, residents have received notices about issues with the water. Homeland citizens were present to express their concerns about the well-being of their families and asked why these issues occur so often. Nixon stated the issues are not necessarily with the water itself, but the way the water is tested. He says the issues are caused when the chlorine reacts to the natural particles of the water and then affected by the heat. There are only two places the water can be tested, which are at the ends of the hydrant lines. Nixon stated the city flushes the system every one to two weeks and once the new well is in place the city should see more resolve in these matters.

Another concern from citizens was the delay in receiving the information and for some, the lack of notification. Councilmember Richard Gwaltney stated the EPD requires the city to inform all citizens within 24 hours of finding the problem, which they do by mailing a notice to water customers and posting the information in city hall. Other notifications may even be hand delivered. The councilmembers were asked about the use of an all-call system, which they feel would spread the word faster. Nixon said he would speak with EMA Director Bruce Young about the possibility of using the county’s system. A suggestion was also made to update the city’s website with these alerts. 

Also during the meeting, it was brought to attention there are families concerned with the safety of children playing outside, as there are loose aggressive dogs in the area. Officer Todd stated the families can meet with him to fill out statements against the owners.

The city will have a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, October 10 at 7:00 p.m.