Marathon mayor: Add city business tax

Two Marathon City Council members says a potential new city tax could scare away future businesses from the city.

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Dan Zieg proposed the city draft an ordinance to create a business tax on top of Monroe County’s business tax. He didn’t say specifically what his reason is.

Although the ordinance does not target vacation rentals, Zieg said Thursday that future vacation rental homeowners would have to follow the same set of rules, seeing as how both require the same occupational license.

Marathon’s vacation rental ordinance was not part of the discussion Tuesday, but other businesses were.

Under Zieg’s plan, to get the city license, the business or home would have to have a fire inspection (already required), be Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant (already required) and have a minimum $1 million liability insurance policy. Not all buildings in Marathon are ADA-compliant but if a building is undergoing at least a 20 percent renovation, it must be brought up to code, according to building official John Woodson.

“This would require for every new business ADA compliance including ramps, elevators, extra railings and parking as examples,” Zieg said at the council meeting Tuesday.

Businesses and homes already licensed before the effective date (should it be approved) wouldn’t be affected by the new rules, Zieg said.

Councilman John Bartus told the Keynoter the ordinance could open a “huge can of worms.”

“The fire inspections aren’t going to be free and the ADA compliance won’t be free,” he said. “On top of that, it adds a whole bunch of work to city staff that right now that I’m not sure we’re going to be able to pay for.”

“I think you’re going to kill a lot of business,” Councilman said Mark Senmartin at Tuesday’s meeting.

In August, Senmartin suggested city occupational licenses be issued by the city instead of Monroe County. Last year, from 2,565 businesses in Marathon, the county took in roughly $87,000, according to County Tax Collector Deedee Henriquez. From the annual license renewal, Marathon got back 11.29 percent, she said.

Even if Marathon creates its own business tax, the county will still impose one, she said.

City attorney David Migut said he’s still researching the details but will bring more information to council members.

Also at the meeting Tuesday, council members approved a bid awarding Gonzalez Brothers Landscaping an upcoming beautification project at the city’s entrances costing $194,720.50.

Councilman Mark Senmartin said prior to voting against it that the bid award didn’t pass his “sniff test.” Luis Gonzalez sits on the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee while Willie Gonzalez is on the Community Image Advisory Board.

“I’m just point out for transparency that I don’t like the way it looks,” Senmartin said.

“It happens,” Coldiron said. “Sometimes we have to just realize we are so small there will be times we have to entertain a contract with a local business.”

Migut said seeing as how the City Council has the final say and neither of the Gonzalez brothers are council members, there is not a conflict.

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219