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Newly-elected Sanibel mayor addresses Republican Caucus

By Staff | Apr 26, 2010

Sanibel’s newly elected mayor, Kevin Ruane, was the guest speaker at the April meeting of the Sanibel-Captiva Republican Caucus, held on Saturday. The mayor’s primary focus was the financial outlook for the City of Sanibel.

Ruane has an extensive background in finance, having served in various senior executive positions, including Chief Financial Officer in a Fortune 100 company. In 1991, he took over the family CPA firm and later formed his own successful finance company.

In 2004, after selling both companies, he and his family moved permanently to Sanibel, where they had vacationed for many years. They arrived just in time to experience Hurricane Charley, and Ruane jumped in to help with damage assessment. He became active in several community organizations and, in 2007, received an interim appointment to fill a vacant seat on the Sanibel City Council.

Later that same year, he was elected to the City Council, and re-elected in 2009. He served as vice mayor in 2008 and 2009 and was elected mayor by the council on April 20.

Ruane first spoke about the economy in general, saying that the outlook is cloudy. He said that while nationally the economy is slowly starting to recover, municipal revenues continue to decline with increasing speed. He sited the direct correlation in declining property values and the decrease in valorem taxes, as well as shrinking revenues from sales, gas and communication taxes as some of the factors affecting municipal funding. He said that expenses are continuing to spiral upward while revenue goes down.

The mayor also stated that various other unknown factors – such as hurricanes and the possibility of brown algae on our beaches – can have significant impact on the city’s financial wellbeing. The cost of algae cleanup a few years ago was over $1 million. He said that the answer for government to remain solvent is basically simple: raise revenues and/or cut expenses.

In addition, Ruane said that Sanibel is much better off than many other cities, having $3.6 million above budget in the coffers. He explained that the city has taken steps to live within its means by reducing staff, first by attrition and, if necessary, by pay reductions and staff cuts. The outsourcing of some tasks previously performed by city workers, such as the maintenance of the sports fields, has reduced expenses.

The meeting was also attended by Dick Ripp and Cecil Pendergrass, Republican candidates for the District 2 seat on the Lee County Commission. Each candidate gave a presentation expressing his views on local and county issues.

The next meeting of the Sanibel-Captiva Republican Caucus will be held on Saturday, May 22 at the Sanibel Public Library. All Republican voters are welcome to attend. Please call Robb Moran at 472-9035 for more information.