Florida Keys News
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
City delays finance services action

MARATHON -- Citing annual budget discussions to begin in July, the Marathon City Council decided not to "change horses midstream," in the words of Vice Mayor Chris Bull, with its financial services provider.

With Bishop Rosasco's contract set to continue into early 2015, the council elected to delay until October, at the earliest, a request for qualifications and proposals for in-house and/or contracted finance services

Councilman Mark Senmartin tried to set Sept. 30 as the RFQ date, but Councilman John Bartus said he did not wish to be tied to a specific date.

The discussion ranged from mild to effusive praise for Bishop Rosasco, the city's current financial services firm, but the council said having in-house finance staff could save the city money, perhaps more than 50 percent of the $526,000 they paid in 2013.

Comparing Marathon's expenses with about 10 comparable cities, the council consensus was that a new finance agreement would bring savings, but it was inappropriate to make the move now.

Questions were raised as to whether the numerical analysis of other cities' finance costs was comparing "apples to apples." Some cities' in-house staff handle wastewater and stormwater billings, while others contract that service out.

Vice Mayor Bull pointed out at least three cities in the comparison list were more than 50 years old and did not include the costs of having to create assessment rolls.

Bartus added that the last time Marathon sought financial services bids, only one response was submitted. He said he met June 24 with Peter Rosasco, who said he's willing to renegotiate the current contract.

Mayor Dick Ramsay said he'd like to have City Manager Mike Puto speak with Rosasco about reducing costs. He suggested among the items needing adjusting were the firm's travel expenses. He said Rosasco billed $14,000 for a trip to Tallahassee this year. Ramsay made a motion and the council agreed to have the manager speak with Bishop Rosasco about cost reduction, with Bartus serving as council liaison.

The next item discussed was the wastewater "bricks and mortar" project list, which includes possible expenditures for the $17 million in state funds awarded to Marathon as part of a countywide agreement.

The wastewater construction projects include a utilities facility at 104th Street on property owned by the city; force main construction in two service areas to handle greater flows; a citywide computerized monitoring system; a crane truck, vacuum truck, centrifuge and forklift; and vacuum collection system extension and equipment and reuse distribution system extension.

Utilities Manager Zully Hemeyer said the next step is assigning dollar amounts to each item and submitting the project list to the state's Department of Environmen-tal Protection, adding that the state's grant manager for the state revolving funds has not been assigned.

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