MARATHON — Local attorney Steven Williams attended the Marathon City Council meeting Tuesday, Sept. 8, and was officially welcomed as the city’s second in-house attorney after David Migut, who was the first in 2015 and resigned last year. Williams’ contract is effective Sept. 21, and his last day as assistant county attorney is Sept. 18.
Interim attorneys Dirk Smits and Gaelan Jones, both from the Islamorada-based Vernis & Bowling, were thanked for their service.
Attending his first Marathon meeting virtually, Williams heard rumblings from citizens of what could become his first new case.
A half-dozen residents of the Tropical Isle neighborhood filled public comment time to allege that building permits issued to Seasons 16 LLC were granted erroneously.
Seasons 16 requested permits for two single-family residences on a 19,058-square-foot lot on Mockingbird Lane, and the city granted the request.
Zoned residential medium, the lot’s square footage accommodates 2.19 homes, according to the Marathon planning department’s analysis. Planning Director George Garrett noted the Monroe County property record mirrors the survey submitted by Seasons 16. Neighbors disagreed.
The city’s analysis found that the property exceeds the minimum lot area of 17,424 square feet required under the city’s land development regulations.
“The city has reviewed the [plans] for each of the permits issued and has confirmed the identical residences meet front, side and rear setbacks as well as the minimum distance between buildings as measured from the eaves,” Garrett said. “If it were true that the property in question [was] under the minimum lot size for two residences, city code allows the transfer of residential density to the property to make up for any deficiency.”
This item was not on the agenda and thus warranted no feedback from the council.
In other news, Marathon approved a $60,000 contract for lobbying services with Ballard Partners. City Manager Chuck Lindsey said Marathon has two lobbying firms in Tallahassee, “both of which are incredible and have paid for themselves every year. ... I can’t say enough about our team up there.”
In total, the city expects to pay $120,000 for the two state lobbyists ($60,000 each and 50% funded by the utilities enterprise fund) and $48,000 on one federal lobbyist.
Marathon also held the first public hearing Friday on its 2020-21 annual budget. The city is proposing a 2.2% cost-of-living raise for staff and the ability to receive up to a 3% merit-based increase on individual evaluations, according to the city’s finance director, Jennifer Johnson.
The tentative millage rate is 2.59 mills, which is $259 for each $100,000 of taxable assessed property value. It is higher than the rolled-back rate of 2.4631 mills by 5.15%.
Last year, the budget also increased by more than 5%. The owner of a home assessed at $400,000 in property value would pay $1,036 in property taxes for the new fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.