Before the meeting, the council held a public hearing of the proposed 2020 budget. The budget was read, and no questions or concerns were asked by the public. The hearing closed at 6:40 p.m.
During the meeting, council members heard from Hayes Hofstader, and engineer with Hofstader & Associates. The company worked with the South Georgia Regional Commission for the city to receive the $532,000.00 grant for the new well. Hofstader thanked the council for choosing to work with this company. He stated the grant received is rare and prestigious. He said the EPD saw the need for the well and stepped in during the process to help make sure the city received it. Council members asked how long he believes the project for installation would take. Hofstader replied he would estimate about one-and-a-half to two years. Members thanked him for his hard work and for coming to speak with with them.
Also during the meeting, the council heard from Public Works Superintendent Blair Nixon who said the department has received the new lawn mowers, two Bad Boy Rouge mowers from Dixon Tractor in Blackshear, and stated the mowers are running well and he appreciates the council for getting them. He also stated the department has recalibrated the master meter, with the assistance of Woodrow & Satt, who repacked the main well. Nixon told the members they have cut the grass out at the cemetery and will likely spray for sand spurs in November and his work crew is working on sprucing up Waughtel Park for the Founder’s Day celebration to be held November 2.
Councilman Jon Finsness updated the council on the success of the Community Clean-up Day. Three dumpsters were hauled away, and two are currently at city hall for anyone who wishes to get rid of any waste or debris. He said anyone wishing to leave yard debris must use a separate dumpster. Waste and debris, such as tree limbs or branches, cannot be in the same dumpster. He also thanked the other members for their contributions to the day as well. Finsness stated he would look into the possibility of keeping a dumpster on a more permanent basis for citizens to continue to use.
The council discussed opening bids for garbage collection. The city is currently in a contract with Advance Disposal, but may switch. The city is currently paying for trash pick-up for residents with extra trash cans, who have not paid the city for the extra service. Councilperson Lisa Nettles suggested finding out which cans have or have not been paid for and making sure the new cans are accounted for. The city recently went up on garbage collection fees to try to make up the difference. Another possibility to correct the ongoing issues was to have the city potentially do the trash pick-up in-house. Nettles stated they to not have the manpower nor the equipment to do so. Councilman Richard Gwaltney made the motion to go out to bid for another contract, as well as look into possibly purchasing a used garbage truck for the city. The motion passed, with Nettles objecting.
Councilperson Nettles expressed her concern for the decrease in attendance of the Homeland Founders Day and offered ideas to help draw in a bigger crowd. She suggested bringing in arts and craft vendors and playing old fashioned or carnival-style games for the children. Councilman Mark Williams stated there may be a food vendor at the celebration and suggested the possibility of adding more. The council decided they would assemble a group to look into updates for the event.
Councilperson Donna King expressed her concern with the amount of un-permitted campers in Homeland who are using extension cords from houses and are not hooked up to city water. She suggested sending an inspector to the residencies and making sure the mayor gives notice to the violators. The council agreed something needs to be done and will review their legal options.
Also during the meeting, the council approved the 2020 budget of $1,349,597.42 with no increase to the millage rate; discussed instating a leash law; and decided to continue reviewing the work place drug policy.
The Homeland City Council heard from Walter Price, who thanked them for offering the dumpsters and stated he hoped they pass the debris issue.
Steve King expressed his concern of a citizen possibly living in a U-Haul truck. He stated he does not understand how the city will handle it and what is fair for one is fair for all. Members of the council stated they have been made aware of the problem and are looking at every possible angle to correct the situation. They thanked the citizens for their attendance and for expressing their concerns.