The objective of the Committee of the Island's City Governance Committee is to regularly review the City of Sanibel management in terms of its goals, staffing, and costs, both short term and long term. The Sanibel Vision Statement and the Sanibel Plan are our guide. Suggestions for study or change are made at city council meetings, where appropriate, and communicated directly to city council and the city manager.
For several years the City of Sanibel has used the annual budget as the primary statement of their priorities. Projections beyond the 12-month time-frame are discussed but no firm commitments are made.
Using the annual budget process, the city has responded commendably to the overall economic downturn. Millage rates and total adopted budgets were reduced for the 2008 and 2009 budget years, while maintaining quality city services. The Committee of the Islands continues to be influential on many specific issues, using the Sanibel Plan as our guide, by restraining undesirable growth of staffing, building and infrastructure.
Larger fiscal responsibility challenges lie ahead. These center on the threats to our island’s future which include:
- What money and resources do we need to support the fight to reduce the continuing water pollution from Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River which threaten our wildlife and our beaches. More specifically, what are the costs and implications of possible repeating deposits of red drift algae on our beaches, such as occurred in winter 2006-07, caused by excessive pollution in 2004-05? We again received excessive pollution in 2008 and may again in 2011.
- How will the City recover from possible severe future storm damage (think Hurricane Charlie on Sanibel, 2004, and Hurricane Ike on Galveston, 2008).
- What are the implications for the city’s ad valorem taxes given the projected future reductions in assessed real estate value.
Given the above future threats, we need to continually examine the skills and assignments of city staff on a time-frame longer than 12 months. We have basically completed building and infrastructure to the levels proposed by the Sanibel Plan, so a review would be timely.
The current drastic global and national economic changes have created severe fiscal problems for many state and city governments. Staff reductions by attrition and buy-out have increased. Some bankruptcies have occurred. Sanibel has generous pension plans for all employees.
The City Governance Committee will continue its involvement in both short-term and long-term Sanibel issues. Given that island residents are taxed by numerous Lee County taxing authorities over which our City Council has no control, COTI will broaden its mandate to also examine particularly egregious regional tax problems.
By state law, budget discussions start in earnest after the Lee County Property Appraiser issues the Preliminary Taxable Value in June each year. In order to be maximally effective, the Committee of the Island's City Governance Committee should function year-round. We would welcome the assistance of Committee of the Islands members experienced in budgetary issues/analysis in this effort. Such participation would not involve a lot of meetings – much can be done over the Internet. PLEASE HELP US IN THIS IMPORTANT ENDEAVOR.
Chairperson: Wayne Ponader send an email