The Marathon City Council awarded Gonzalez Brothers the contract to continue providing landscaping services to the Middle Keys city. Gonzalez Brothers has had the job since 2007. The contract is typically good for three years.

At $408,050 it was not the lowest bid, but scored highest on the city’s matrix. Marathon’s process for accepting bids is different from that of other municipalities, which tend to accept the lowest. The lowest bidder in this case was Homestead-based BrightView Landscaping at $319,796. The most expensive was bid at $725,000 per year.

“I see Gonzalez Brothers as the second lowest bidder, and there is a two-point difference between them on the matrix and a $90,000 difference,” Councilman Mark Senmartin said.

Public Works Director Carlos Solis and City Manager Chuck Lindsey explained the Gonzalez Brothers contract was chosen because of its score.

“A panel goes and reviews the documents that we’re given and makes the best decision with the information they have,” Lindsey said. 

The bids were reviewed by three city staff members — the fire chief, the parks director and Solis — on experience, qualifications, client references and cost.

Councilman Dan Zieg said there was risk in hiring the lowest bidder. 

“As we know, we like to support our local businesses and the Gonzalez brothers have proven their value,” he said. 

“I vote to save the taxpayers $90,000,” Senmartin said. 

Zieg, Mayor Michelle Coldiron and Vice Mayor John Bartus voted in favor of the contract, while Senmartin voted against it. 

“The city manager will set the terms of the contract and it’ll come back to council once we’ve worked out all the details,” Solis said. 

In other news:

• The council re-upped the city’s First Time Home Buyer loan program and unanimously agreed to re-fund the program, created in 2010, in the amount of $100,000. It provides a $10,000 loan from the city to assist with the costs of buying a house in the area from Conch Key south to Big Pine Key. 

• The Parks and Recreation Department is in the process of coming up with a report on repairs and improvements to Sombrero Beach following the damage sustained during Hurricane Irma. There are massive piles of sand on the beach, which were sifted for debris after the storm. 

“The dunes are pretty, but they’re disintegrating,” said Parks and Recreation Director Jimmy Schmidt. “We have to plant some sort of sea oats to keep it whole.” 

The council also discussed replacing grass at Marathon Community Park and directed staff to research the best timing and options.

• In its second vote to finalize the rules, the council unanimously affirmed food trucks are allowed to operate from dusk to dawn, for eight hours. Also, truly mobile vendors like ice cream trucks may stay in the right of way for up to 15 minutes. There will be seven licenses allowed citywide. Permit fees have not yet been determined.

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