By RON BRIDGEMAN
Banks County Golf, developer of Chimney Oaks Golf Course, requested the City of Homer to de-annex the property Tuesday, and ran into a solid wall of city council opposition.
After several minutes of arguing about the relative benefits of keeping the course and subdivision in the city or de-annexing the property, the two sides agreed to meet – without a quorum – Wednesday, today, at 1?p.m. after the Banks County Rotary Club meeting.
Brad Day, representing the golf course development, asked for the de-annexing at a city council work session.
Council member James Dumas suggested having “all the parties” in one room for a discussion. He said the city and county governments and the golf course company are involved.
He suggested Cheek and a council member meet with Day and anyone he chooses with Jimmy Hooper, board of commission chairman, and a commissioner. Day said the golf course has invited commissioner Charles Turk to meet with them several times.
Council member David Dunson, Jerry Payne and Sandra Garrison did not attend the work session. Dunson and Payne have had health problems.
Council members Cliff Hill and Dumas and mayor Doug Cheek were unanimous that they would vote against a de-annexing of the property.
When Day presented the request, Hill shot back with a quick, “why?”
Day responded, “So you don’t have to worry about us anymore.”
Cheek chimed in with “we have no intention of doing that (de-annexing).”
The mayor and Dumas said the city has “bent over backward” to meet the needs of the development company.
Day commented the city council said it would not accept the roads in the subdivision.
Council members reacted negatively at a May work session when the golf course company proposed an 8 percent fee for the city billing sewer customers – to be sent to the company. The city proposed a sliding scale from 10 to 5 percent, depending on the number of houses in the development.
Dumas and Hill said the city would lose a source of revenue if the golf course company took over the water service for the development.
Hill insisted the roads in the subdivision do not meet city standards, and the city has a policy against accepting roads that do not meet the standards.
“I don’t care about owners. I care about the people who live in there (the golf development),” Dumas said.
Cheek said the city has spent “tens and tens of thousands of dollars” on the development over the past 20 years and several owners. Day challenged that, asking for specifics.
Dumas cited the county’s LOST money, which is divided among local governments on a per capita basis.
He asked for written notification for the de-annexing request. Day said that has been done in an email requesting it be on the work session agenda.
Cheek attempted to cut the discussion off, repeating his opposition and saying a vote would be taken Tuesday. Council members and Day argued back and forth, mostly repeating arguments until Dumas suggested the meeting of the parties involved.
The council also discussed a proposed budget for the fiscal year 2020. It will not be approved until the July board meeting, city clerk Carol Ayers said, because of the length of time required for the process.
Water purchases and professional fees drew comments from council members.
Cheek said the city should save some money on buying water from the county when its water supply from a new well is operable.
The budget includes the same $80,000 for buying water from the county as the current year. Cheek first said that might save more than the $80,000, but retreated from that when it was noted a well-house and associated equipment must be built before the water can be used.
A contract for that construction is expected to be on the Tuesday agenda. Griffin Bros. of Maysville is the recommended contractor.
Perhaps a half year savings might be counted on for the next fiscal year, Dumas and Cheek agreed.
Professional fees are budgeted for $30,000, up from $25,000 in the current budget, and council members agreed it might be more than that.
During the brief discussion of professional fees, Ayers said the city’s subdivision regulations and ordinance “needs to be worked on yesterday.” That might take more money, she said.
The budget includes a pay raise for employees. Ayers said that was not done in the current budget.
Dumas said the city website, which was been upgraded significantly, is “pretty much in our court.” He said if council members are not going to use their new email, that expense should come off the charges.
The city’s budget is projected at $501,500 and the water budget is about the same as this year, an increase of $2,500 to $249,000.
Dumas urged the council to approve the idea of establishing city council districts. He said that should be done soon so that state legislation can be sought in the 2020 General Assembly. That item also will be on Tuesday’s agenda.
City attorney David Syfan had suggested the districts’ plan as a way to keep city governance spread around the town. Dumas has been the strongest supporter of the idea.