In his sixth consecutive year on the Marathon City Council, Pete Worthington will serve from the center seat after being selected without opposition to serve as the Mayor of Marathon.
Nominated by Vice Mayor Dick Ramsay, “based on what he’s done for the residents of this city,” Worthington thanked the council for bestowing him the honor of returning to the middle chair and pledged to “do a good job over the next 12 months.”
This is his second stint as Mayor and fourth term. He also served on the Council from 2002-2004.
“I wanted to thank councilwoman Snead for her service over the last two years,” Worthington concluded the regularly scheduled meeting of the Marathon City Council Tuesday evening. “Going into her fourth year, she’s done a great job, and being mayor is a greater time commitment, going to city hall to sign contracts and whatnot. I’m planning on taking over some of those responsibilities for representing the city.”
Councilman Rich Keating, who was sworn in for his second term by his wife, Laurel, echoed Worthington’s sentiments regarding Snead’s commitment to the seat.
“It’s not just a ceremonious post,” Keating noted. “Ginger made sure the meeting’s ran smoothly and that we all play nice up here. With a business to run and a personal life, being the mayor doesn’t often leave time for much else, so I want to thank her for the commitment.”
Once the pleasantries concluded, the council heard from angered tow truck owners who voiced their opposition to the ordinance on the agenda mandating they accept credit cards.
Bill Pruitt, of Florida Keys Towing, told the council that the owners of the property adjacent to the boat ramp next to the Island Fish Co. requested that his company place “No Parking” signs on their property. He also called the mandate on tow truck operators to take credit cards, “not right.”
“If you do it to us, you will have to do it to everyone’s business,” Pruitt insisted.
He further contended that it was far too easy for a customer to dispute a charge to their bank or credit card company and take back the money charged to the company for towing.
“We’re not trying to rape anybody,” Pruitt continued. “Our prices are set by you guys.”
Ramsay raised the issue at the last council meeting when resident Ron Costa emailed the Marathon Chamber of Commerce regarding an exchange with Florida Keys Towing in which they demanded a $202 cash payment to retrieve his towed vehicle. Co
Costa suggested in his initial email to the Chamber that, “Marathon is going to leave an extremely bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths and they’ll think twice before visiting here ever again if they get towed and can’t get their car back.”
Kerry Struyf of Paradise Towing said that in addition to not taking credit cards, he never takes out of state checks.
“I have a drawer full of local checks that are bouncing already,” Struyf lamented. “Nobody’s ever happy when they come get their car out of our yard, whether it’s after a DUI or whatever. As long as it’s posted, it’s legal to tow.”
Snead reiterated a point she’d raised at the previous council meeting that the issue at hand is a lack of parking.
“We need to pursue the owners of the Quay about some kind of agreement that we can park there,” she suggested. “A tourist is going to want to put a car there. Our problem is bigger than telling a local business they have to take a credit card. We need to see about making some agreements with landowners to allow people to park there.”
Councilman Rich Keating added that a property owner has a right to protect their property if it’s being abused, and until the city works to set aside some additional property for truck and trailer parking at the city’s free, public boat ramps, the issue is going to continue to come up.
“My concern, too, is that we put an undue burden on the businesses in Marathon,” Keating noted of the ordinance amendment suggesting tow truck operators be forced to accept credit cards. “The demeanor of a person trying to retrieve their car that’s been towed will be different than that of a person going into a restaurant to have dinner.”
The proposed amendments to the city’s current towing ordinance failed, and council directed staff to begin reaching out to property owners like the Quay to begin negotiations for trailer parking alternatives.