At its next meeting, the Marathon City Council will consider two important topics: the continuation or cancellation of the hospital special taxing district, and the city’s watering laws. 

The Middle Keys Health Care Municipal Services Taxing Unit issue is a holdover from the March meeting of the council. At that meeting, lacking detailed financial accounting from Baptist Health South Florida regarding its expenditures on care for uninsured and underinsured patients in the Middle Keys, the council agreed to bring back two resolutions in April — one approving the continuation of the tax and one canceling it. 

Since then, Baptist Health has provided detailed information — 57 pages — regarding patient treatment at Fishermen’s Community Hospital and area doctors within the Baptist Health system. Baptist has billed Monroe County $2,258,598 for services rendered. In the same period, the Monroe County Tax Collector has collected $1,905,082 in taxes from the Middle Keys Health Care Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU). The health system will only be repaid the $1.9 million, according to the laws governing the tax district. 

There will be a special call meeting on Wednesday, April 14 for a second reading of the ordinance to ratify or cancel the taxing district. 

The council will also hear the second reading of a law governing water usage in Marathon, such as irrigation. The first reading was at the February meeting, and the ordinance was pulled from the March agenda. It’s back this month, with an accompanying letter of support from the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority. 

The law is lengthy and detailed. If passed, homeowners would only be allowed to water their lawns twice a week on specified days between the hours of 4 p.m. to 10 a.m., depending on their home address. Property owners can also be cited for “wasteful and unnecessary” watering. Examples include over-watering, leaving an unattended hose on a driveway with water flowing, allowing landscape irrigation water to unnecessarily fall onto pavement, sidewalks or other impervious surfaces. 

City officials have said signing the rules into law will help the municipality qualify for grants from the South Florida Water Management District. Marathon received about $2.5 million in SFWMD funds between 2006 and 2010.

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