County commission chair sees tax cuts, human services in future
As mayor of Sanibel for 12 years, Kevin Ruane held budget and water quality issues as top priorities, he told members of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce at the July 14 luncheon business meeting held at the Thistle Lodge at the Casa Ybel Resort. The Lee County Board of County Commissioners directed him along the same paths for a larger community when he took the position of District 1 commissioner and board chairman last year.
Ruane spoke of his accomplishments as mayor to strengthen city finances.
“I’ve promised the citizens of Lee County I’d do the same,” he said. “I’m happy to indicate that we will be going into tax cuts. I’ve advocated for that.”
Despite the complications of navigating COVID-19 vaccination distributions this year, the county has had a good year, with property values up 6.9 percent, Ruane said. It has allowed the commission to put aside money for quick temporary housing, food banks and other community services.
“Human services are something we’re concentrating on,” he said. “We’re getting involved with low-market housing to allow people to live closer to work and not put a strain on the roads … We need to do a much better job locally.”
Ruane’s involvement with water quality began as mayor when it became an economic issue. In 2016, he was instrumental in forming the largest compact for water quality in the history of the Florida League of Cities with more than 165 mayors participating. In 2014, Gov. Rick Scott appointed Ruane to the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force and reappointed him in 2019.
“The water quality, in front of us, is going to be the most important thing we’ll have in the next 10 years,” he said. “We have tried very hard to work with the mayors. We continue to have in the script the building of an alliance to make sure that we’re heard.”
Ruane pointed to the county’s robust Conservation 20/20 program and initiatives addressing climate control and sea level rise as indications of progress regarding environmental issues. He urged islanders, as part of his constituency also covers Pine Island and west Cape Coral, to call and email him directly with questions and concerns.
“Chair Ruane, as a former resident, is a true friend of the islands and its business community,” chamber President and Chief Executive Officer John Lai said. “We deeply thank him for taking the time to ‘come back home’ and bring us up to date on how county actions are affecting our community.”
911 Restoration sponsored the meeting.