The budget process in Marathon is complete

Marathon City Councilman Jeff Smith joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM yesterday morning to talk about what’s been going on in the city. 

The budget process went relatively smoothly in Marathon. 

Smith said, “We are in very good shape. We received rollback, and we are adding to our reserves. It was at 38 days, we’ll be moving some money around with the staff raises. Thirty-eight days in excess of a year, I should say in our reserves, that may drop down to 36 days. We’re certainly happy to be over one year reserved. We all know what it was like after Hurricane Irma and that’s a very important fiscal management tool to have at your disposal.”

Building permit refunds have also been in discussion. 

Smith said, “We’re hoping to get the word out there for anybody that is eligible for the last two years to get their permit apps, you can go online to the city’s website, and click through there. If you’ve pulled that permit, you may be eligible. We’ve given out just just shy I believe of $500,000 of refunds. Anything that is unclaimed, we have slated to go into a charitable fund in our building department for qualified projects. We also lowered our building fees and of course, we basically split the pot of excess reserves funds, half for for refunds and have to apply to lower the fees. I certainly wish we had a little more traction on applicants. But with our turnover of real estate as it is some people have already sold their homes, moved out of the area, may not be aware of it and have not reached out to claim any money that will go back to them but we do have a good use for it if the deadline passes.”

Today is the deadline to get the refunds. 

A single family residence was also talked about. 

Smith explained, “It was a triplex across from the high school. An older property that was built two storey on ground level based on the flood zone, then they just elevated it slightly, so there was no under storage parking. That made it very tight to have 11 bedrooms on that site. Council did decline that conditional use application and we followed that up with a zoning and progress ordinance. We can look at our land development regulations and further address these requests as they come in and maybe fine tune where we’re going to permit that, if will permit it, etc. Because right now anything over six bedrooms requires a conditional use. That was just a little bit tight I think and there were some neighborhood objections to that structure as well. We don’t have many of them, but perhaps we’ll look at some other areas in the city and that LDR process as our planning department works through it that may make sense. But the council felt it did not in that particular location.”

A memorial garden was installed at Rotary Park in Marathon. 

Smith said, “We also finalized our agreement with the firefighter union. That was a quite an accomplishment. We are pleased that we came to a mutually happy agreement on that. We will be granting firefighters a 20% raise and the union this year, then followed by 10 and five, for each of the next two years. That was a big win for everybody to get that accomplished just in the nick of time. In addition to the budget, we also are just really pleased with achieving rollback at 2.477 and that includes with with the union contract. So basically, the last two meetings have been highlighted by budget at this as it is at this time of year. We’ll move on through some LDRs and back to the normal kind of city business as we move through October and November.”

The city’s code board has also been dissolved. 

Smith said, “That has come to conclusion. The code board, we have a hybrid system where we’re using a special magistrate as well as the code board if certain charges and they would elect to use the code board as opposed to the magistrate. It really did not have a lot of use over the last year. We found was it was difficult getting a quorum, because it was not a regular scheduled meeting, it was very difficult to plan. If you knew you had a monthly meeting, you had a board similar to the planning board where that was it, great. But if you were on call, more or less, three times a year, it became difficult to have a quorum. By law had to have seven members on that board. We couldn’t shrink it. So the after consideration, I think everybody on the council was pleased. We did leave the door open. We can we can always by resolution go back to appointing a code board. But for now we think moving forward with the code cases, especially with the increased number of code cases with the focus on vacation rental. We had 18 cases last meeting. There’s there’s a big volume in there. I think having the experience of the special magistrate coupled with our improved code enforcement and our city attorney navigates moving those things pretty quickly through and hitting the highlights. So we’re pretty pleased with where we are in code enforcement right now.”

The next Marathon City Council meeting will be October 10 at 5:30 p.m.