Marathon Makes Preliminary Strides to Reduce Sewer Costs

With the 2010 deadline for sewer installation looming, the Marathon City Council met on Wednesday to discuss what Councilman Dick Ramsay called “out of the box ideas.”

“Tallahassee has to know what would happen if we (the Keys) don’t get that subsidy money,” said Monroe County Mayor George Neugent. “We need to start coming up with a plan B.”

Neugent proposed a possible $0.01 sales tax to cover cost of lateral hookups. Homeowners, he said, are potentially going to bear the full cost of an Equivalent Dwelling Unit or EDU connection to the main sewer line that could cost as much as $10,000 – $20,000 throughout the Keys.

Marathon Mayor Mike Cinque said preliminary figures put the maximum cost lateral hookup for a single-family home in Marathon at $5,700.

Ramsay clarified any misconceptions about his intentions of bringing local contractors and suppliers to the meeting for open discussion about the council’s efforts to reduce costs to citizens.

“I am not suggesting in any way that the City is going to buy, sell or stockpile materials for this project,” Ramsay stated, much to the relief of Councilman Pete Worthington.

“I’m relieved to hear Councilman Ramsay make this clear,” Worthington said. “We’re not going to be wearing Home Depot aprons and selling pipe.”

Jack Buchannan of Home Depot in Marathon told the council his company would be looking into going directly to its vendors to buy plumbing supplies in bulk and saving money for the people of Marathon.

Dale Baker of Marathon Lumber said his company was also willing to talk to it vendors, but that an extensive amount of coordination is going to be necessary to conduct the business of bulk buying in a cost effective manner.

Charlie Beneway, licensed general contractor and plumber, who subcontracts work with the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, offered suggestions to the council for streamlining the inspection process and saving money.

Ramsay said though they were not present at the summit, he knew of representatives from local pea rock and back fill distributors that were interested in participating in the advisory committees and local bidding.

Following input from the audience, Worthington asked Ramsay and the council what responsibilities would ultimately fall on the city as far as supplying and financing was concerned.

Ramsay said the necessary brainstorming and discussions would be conducted in the sub committees informally appointed during the summit. The committees, two of which were a Finance committee and a Contractors/Suppliers committee, will be formally discussed at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

“We need to deal with these issues on a committee basis and bounce ideas around there to bring back to the council,” Ramsay said.

Chris Bull of the Florida Keys Wastewater Assistance Foundation explained to the council, city officials, local contractors and concerned citizens at the meeting that the only way to get funding promised at the beginning of the sewer project down from Tallahassee is to have a unified voice.

Bull and Susan Hammaker of the Assistance Foundation shared Key Largo’s recent resolution of Board of Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District pledging support to and requesting financial support assistance from congressional leaders and state senators.

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