Water and garbage rates for customers in Homer may increase in the next few months, and pay for the council members also may go up for the first time ever.
The Homer City Council held a work session Dec. 3 and discussed those topics, along with a variance in zoning for the Chimney Oaks Golf Course development and blighted property in the city.
Council members Cliff Hill and James Dumas and Jerry Payne, who presided in the absence of Mayor Doug Cheek attended the meeting. Council members Sandra Garrison and David Dunson did not attend.
The council members has discussed the water and garbage rates for the past few months, but no action has been taken.
The council agreed to have a spreadsheet of water rates throughout the state at the next work session. Council members discussed raising water rates “by a couple of dollars” a month.
Dumas urged the group to hold a public hearing on any rate increase “whether anyone comes or not.”
Dumas said, and Payne and Hill agreed, the city should hold a public hearing for any kind of rate or fee increase.
Dumas said a water rate increase “is warranted” and said that the city should start a plan for capital improvements. He said a capital plan for the city indicated water lines should be replaced between 2021 and 2026.
Any increase could go into a fund that would be used to pay for new water lines, he indicated.
Homer’s water rates are “pretty low,” Payne said. He added, “At some point, we’re going to have to have a second well.”
The city’s garbage rate, which is $15 a month per customer, is also pretty low, Dumas said.
Dumas noted that area towns, such as Lula and Maysville, pay about $2,400 a year to council members and $4,800 a year to mayors.
Homer has paid it council members $35 a meeting since the town started, Carol Ayers, city clerk, has said.
The council agreed the pay could be raised to $100 per meeting, including work sessions, and should be conditioned on members attending meetings. That would effectively make the pay $50 per meeting because it meets twice a month.
The mayor’s pay, which is $50 per meeting now, would go up proportionately. That would be $130 per meeting, including work sessions.
Hill said he did not serve for the money. The other council members agreed. Payne said he did not know there was any pay when he ran for office.
A variance for some lots at the Chimney Oaks golf course would affect the side and rear setbacks.
Golf course owners asked for a setback of 10 feet. It is now 15 feet.
Council members noted the original request dealt only with rear setbacks. Dumas said it also was for a porch, not the living area of a house.
Dumas repeated his acceptance of a rear setback as long as it is adjacent to a golf course or greenspace. He said he would have questions about other setbacks.
The variances are mostly for lots on cul-de-sacs in the golf development.
“These corner lots, to me, are a real problem,” Dumas said. Some of the lots have streets on two sides.
In other business, the council:
•agreed to discuss a blighted property ordinance with city attorney David Syfan. The city has written some letters to property owners about their property. Questions have been raised about some of the property and other homes in the city.
•heard the city will get an additional $18,000 in forgiveness on a Georgia Environmental Finance Authority loan. The loan was for $450,000 for water meters and digital mapping, Ayers said. The city will repay $342,000 and $108,000 will be forgiven.
•heard Dumas say the city’s new website has been launched. He encouraged members to look at the site and make suggestion. The address is townofhomerga.com.