NEW SOFTWARE WOES PLAGUE MARATHON’S BUILDING
On May 11, there was a surprise on the Marathon City Council agenda. All of the department reports — such as the building and wastewater — were marked with an asterisk, which indicates consent, or no discussion. This is an abrupt turnaround from the council’s most recent decision to hear from every department, every month. (Prior to that, departments only prepared reports every other month on a rotating basis.)
When the Building Department’s Noe Martinez was called to the podium, he opened with the standard statement about the report and then started speaking spontaneously about the city’s new software that connects the building, permitting, code and fire rescue departments. He raised serious concerns about the software.
“It’s been five months and it is still not running the way it should be running. Their program was not ready to put on the market because it is incomplete. All they are doing is using us as guinea pigs to create a program that they can sell for more money,” Martinez said. “I’d rather keep the dinosaur (previous system).”
In August 2019, the Marathon City Council approved the purchase of Viewpoint software (subsequently bought by Opengov). The software costs $37,100 the first year, and has annual fees of $20,300.
The rollout of the software was delayed, and in February 2020, Martinez told the council about a glitch. He said there is no way for inspectors to decipher whether or not building plans have been approved when they are out in the field. On May 11, he also said the company is trying to double-bill the city, there is a problem with permit expiration dates within the software and he is repeatedly kicked out of the system. Martinez said if the problem isn’t fixed soon, he would recommend abandoning the entire project.
According to the city’s Finance Director Jennifer Johnson, the city has already invested $47,000.
“Is there a way forward?” asked Councilman Steve Cook.
“I don’t know,” said Martinez.
City Manager George Garrett told the council the software has good and bad features.
In other news:
• The city rescinded its mask ordinance.
• The council made more nominations to the newly re-formed code board. Councilman Dan Zieg nominated Keys Weekly’s Patti Childress, a former code officer. Cook nominated former code director Doug Lewis, who now works in the private sector of the construction industry and Councilman Mark Senmartin objected. Councilman John Bartus, who was absent, submitted his pick for the code board in Jennifer Wile. Previously, Mayor Luis Gonzalez nominated Chad Neller and Senmartin named Frank Greenman. The council must select two more code enforcement officers for a majority vote to complete the seven-person board.
• The city has hired Cameron Bucek to be the assistant fire chief, Maria Covelli as a grants administrator and Amber Stonik as a planner. The code director position is still vacant and a member of the waste water department recently resigned.
• The council will consider turning Sunset Point, adjacent to the boat ramp on 33rd Street, over as a center of operations for the Middle Keys Sailing Club, operated by the Marathon Yacht Club Educational Foundation.
• The city approved the development agreement for a single-family home on the 13-acre island adjacent to SeaWatch condos near Vaca Cut.
• The city approved the change to the mobile food vending ordinance. There is no longer a cap on the amount of food trucks that can be licensed by the state and approved by the city.