Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
City approves 5 percent tax increase

MARATHON -- The Marathon City Council last week approved a property tax increase of just over 5 percent for fiscal year 2013-14.

The town's final budget hearing was Tuesday, Sept. 10. The outcome of that meeting was not known at press time.

But last Thursday, the council OK'd a tax rate that is 5.3 percent above rollback -- the figure that would raise the same revenue as the current year -- and will cost property owners $229 per $100,000 of taxable value.

This fiscal year, Marathon set a tax rate of 7 percent above rollback and charged property owners $219 per $100,000 of taxable value.

The previous four fiscal years, the city levied a tax rate below rollback, records state.

The 2013-14 budget's $9.13 million in proposed expenditures is more than $230,000 higher than this year.

According to Marathon officials, the city has had to absorb the reduction of state communication tax revenues, an increase in Florida retirement benefit rates, the continued cost of the Pigeon Key ferry contract and the city's first collective bargaining agreement with its fire rescue union. The city was also hit with a monetary increase to its sheriff's police services contract.

In other recent action, the Marathon City Council approved five projects totaling $23 million as Restore Act fund recipients.

In 2011, Congress passed legislation to channel civil penalty fines paid by BP/Deepwater Horizon for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to the communities that have been negatively impacted.

In anticipation of being awarded funds, a committee identified projects it feels meets the criteria for funding, including:

• Boot Key acquisition and management;

• Canal restoration and improvements;

• Exotic plant removal;

• Sunset Park improvements; and

• Everglades restoration.

Council members were unanimous in their support of the projects identified. Should funding become available, they will vote on its distribution.

The council also recently approved two-year contracts for two new lobbyists in Tallahassee.

Ronald L. Book P.A. and Ballard Partners Inc. will each receive $5,000 a month as part of the town's intensified effort to obtain $20 million in promised but undelivered state grant funds to help it pay down sewer construction debt.

The lobbying firms replace Floridian Partners LLC.

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