by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Mike Miller has thrown his hat in the ring for Sanibel City Council as one of six candidates running in the March 2 election for the three open seats. His career as an attorney and Certified Public Accountant spans two decades and he spent 17 years as a financial executive for large corporations.
Miller said he has the experience and background to help fill the financial expertise gap former Mayor Kevin Ruane left behind. “The city’s financial condition is good now, but there are concerns moving forward,” he said, and pointed to the Sanibel Recreation Center as an example.
“It has operated at a loss and that situation will be exacerbated as we move forward,” Miller said. “I would like to get it on an ongoing operation where the subsidy is less than $1 million.”
He also pointed to the transportation and beach funds which took a hit from the pandemic as tourism and traffic drastically slowed. “We have a great deal of control over expenditures and could cut expenses, if necessary” he said.
Miller also has a strong interest in the issues facing our water. He said there are two strategies for better water quality: discharges from Lake Okeechobee and nutrient pollution.
He shared his concern over discharges even though there are improvements underway, such as the Caloosahatchee River West Basin Storage Reservoir (C-43), the South C-44 Reservoir and the EAA Storage Reservoir planned for south of Lake O. He said the expected cost for these projects is going up at a time when revenues in Florida are going down.
“That could be an issue going forward, but we need to continue advocating for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project that, if constructed, would create 448,000 acre-feet of water storage and be involved in Lake O operations because the level of the lake is an issue for us,” he said.
Miller discussed harmful nutrients from farm runoffs and septic tanks to name a few that effect our water quality. He advocates the appropriation of the 50/50 program funding to encourage the move from septic to sewer.
He is in opposition to the Sanibel Passage project, a 15-story luxury hi-rise condominium proposed adjacent to the Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa. He said the development would contribute harmful nutrients to the waterway and be a risk to Sanibel’s environment.
His other priorities for Sanibel include working with state legislatures to protect the city’s home rule authority, especially as it relates to regulating short-term vacation rentals. He would also look to banning gas-powered leaf blowers citing emissions and noise as the big issues.
Miller has spent 20 years as an active member of the Sanibel community. He spent five years on the Committee of the Islands board with three as its president. He also spent a total of five years on the city budget and parks and recreation committees. His other community involvement includes seven years on the Sanibel Bicycle Club board and several years on the Progressive Club of the Islands board.
“I like that kind of work,” he said of community service. “I’ve been going to city council meetings for six to seven years and feel there is a need and I can make a positive contribution,” Miller said.