Council Approves Pay Raises

A six-member Homestead City Council unanimously approved a 2.5% pay raise for all City employees at its Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday June 13.

The cost of living adjustment (COLA) is retroactive to October 1, 2016 and also applies to employees not under collective bargaining agreements.

All three City bargaining units had their collective bargaining agreements approved without discussion – the police officers, police lieutenants, and electric utility employees under the IBEW. The two year agreements call for a 2.5% increase each year, budgeted at $246,095, $21,300 and $351,363 respectively.

The 2016-2017 cost of $363,075 for City employees was already in Homestead’s budget. City staff agreed that employee health insurance premiums were still $50 a week for families and $10 a week for individuals.

“I think our employees are incredible and worth every dollar we can afford to give them,” said Councilman Jimmie Williams. He asked when the last pay increases happened. City staff said each unit was given a three percent increase in 2014 and three percent again in 2015.

The item was approved for inclusion on Council’s agenda on Wednesday June 21.

Council earlier held a special call meeting to revise its contract with Axiom Construction Company, the designated contractor for the Homestead Station project. Three areas of the contract were revised in anticipation of the City qualifying for the federal New Market Tax Credit program. Council unanimously approved the recommended changes.

At the COW meeting, Council also approved expenditures for technical improvements at the Seminole Theatre. Part of a $500,000 Florida Cultural Facilities grant, the $353,995 appropriation pays for several projects. A screen and projector with wiring and installation is budgeted for $73,400. A lighting package including LED upgrade and spotlights costs $80,980 plus $18,825 for a lighting console. Additional monies include $46,430 for wireless transmitters and microphones plus a $50,900 monitor system and $82,350 new line array with installation.

Council approved a request from the Rodeo Association to use a twelve by 298 feet swath of land between the stadium and Harris Field. The goal is to build updated animal pens and a centered performance exit. Councilman Jon Burgess got assurances the usage would not interfere with improvements planned for Harris Field. The area was added to the existing City lease with the Rodeo.

The State Attorney’s Office plans an event on November 16 at Dickinson Community Center to seal and expunge records of those arrested but not convicted. The event offers background checks, fingerprinting, notaries and clerks to have the procedure completed in one stop. Council agreed to waive City fees for the event.

Fees were also waived at the Community Center for the Mt. Zion AME Church function on August 19 to honor founding families on the church’s 102nd Birthday

Councilman Stephen Shelley asked if the new deposit requirement on City facilities was helping with event clean up. City staff said it has had a very positive result.

Council also approved the expenditure of $163,160 for a new power engine at the electrical plant, $35,634 to replace an old cargo van and $61,695 to purchase a new general purpose truck.