Marathon 2017-18 budget process underway

The budget process for fiscal year 2017-18 has begun for Marathon city staff.

City Manager Chuck Lindsey said he’s been meeting with department heads and “looking for improvements.”

“We want to find cost savings and then we basically determine what we have to have to continue giving the best services possible and determine how that attributes to any increase, if any,” he said, adding it’s still too early to know if there will be one.

There was an increase in the 2016-17 budget of .2 mills. The owner of a home valued at $300,000 paid $750 in city taxes for the fiscal year, $60 over the previous year, after a tax rate of 2.5 mills, or $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, was approved.

Marathon’s taxable value of land was $2.16 billion for fiscal year 2016-17 and the city expected to collect $5,240,822 in city taxes toward its budget of $15,833,200. The rest of the money comes from licenses and permits, intergovernmental revenue, charges for services and the like.

City Finance Director Jennifer Johnson told the Keynoter Tuesday the taxable value of land is expected to go up by 7.7 percent.

“Right now, that’s just an estimate and we won’t know the actual number until July 1,” she said.

For the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, finding a way to fund capital projects will be a challenge, Lindsey said.

“That’s primarily because we use a lot of capital money to continue paying off our wastewater debt,” he said.

The city incurred roughly $79 million in debt for wastewater and storm water upgrades from 2008 to 2013.

“We’ve been trying to pay it down ever since,” Lindsey said. “We’re working very hard to increase our reserves back to a reasonable level and were very successful this last year in putting almost $1 million in reserves.”

The city’s Boot Key Harbor City Marina is part of the budget but is a financed by an enterprise fund, meaning it sustains itself.

“Any money that it makes has to be invested back into itself. We offer it as a service, but any extra revenue gets invested back into its own fund,” Lindsey said, adding the wastewater and stormwater utilities are also enterprise funds.

The budget will be discussed at the July 11 City Council meeting when a tax rate will be proposed.

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219