Marathon City Council adopts small tax increase

For the first time since 2013, the Marathon City Council could pass a balanced budget for fiscal year 2018.

Finance Director Jennifer Johnson told City Council members Tuesday that revenues are expected to be around $12.1 million, while expenditures are projected at $12.09 million for next year.

“Staff is recommending the millage rate increase from 2.50, what we’re currently charging, to 2.59 for fiscal year 2018,” Johnson said.

The owner of a home valued at $300,000 paid $750 in city taxes for fiscal year 2016-17 after a tax rate of 2.5 mills, or $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, was approved. For the coming year, the owner of a home valued at $300,000 would pay $777 should the budget be approved.

Should the tax rate of 2.59 mills be approved, it would generate just under $6 million for the upcoming year, Johnson said.

Marathon’s taxable value of land is $2.36 billion for the upcoming year, up by about 8 percent, and the city expects to collect $5.9 million in city taxes toward a budget of $17,827,231. The rest of the money comes from licenses and permits, intergovernmental revenue, charges for services and the like.

“Overall, we anticipate ending fiscal year 2018 with $5.4 million in our fund balance, which is 5.36 months of reserves — 19 days short of our six-month target, however a vast improvement from where we’ve been in the past few years,” Johnson said.

She was referring to having an amount of money in reserves for the city to be self-sufficient for six months in the case of a natural disaster.

Council members lauded Johnson for her work and approved the proposed budget. The first and second public hearings on the proposed budget are set for Sept. 12 and Sept. 26.

In other matters Tuesday:

▪ Following recent reports of the Monroe County Commission and Islamorada Village Council supporting a toll for non-residents traveling into the Keys on U.S. 1, council members directed City Manager Chuck Lindsey to draft a resolution also supporting a toll.

“The time has come to do the study and find out if this is going to be worthwhile,” said Councilman Mark Senmartin.

▪ Mayor Dan Zieg had proposed in June amending the schedule to one meeting per month. Council meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays, and it was decided there will still be two meetings per month following public opposition. The second one can be canceled if need be.

▪ A medical marijuana moratorium in the city that started in February was extended Tuesday for another 180 days. The city had approved a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city in response to state constitutional Amendment 2, which allows legal medical marijuana as a treatment for patients with specific diseases. Gov. Rick Scott signed the state medical marijuana bill on June 23, and City Attorney David Migut said he needed time to read through the 48-page document.

▪ Council members unanimously approved in a second public hearing to dissolve the city’s Code Compliance Board and hire a special magistrate. The Code Board will continue to meet until a magistrate is hired in the coming months.

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219