David Miller of LaBelle is Moore Haven’s new city manager

David Miller of LaBelle, an employee of Waste Connections, has been hired to be city manager for the City of Moore Haven. The City Council there voted unanimously Feb. 6 to hire Mr. Miller at an $85,000 annual salary and with a six-month probationary period.

The council had conducted interviews of several finalists on the evenings of Jan. 22-23 and apparently already had agreed they liked Mr. Miller best. Consideration of his hiring was high on their Tuesday night agenda, with Vice Mayor Dave McGee making a perfunctory motion to hire him contingent on negotiation of his compensation package and Councilman Jake Eighner seconding. The vote for approval was 5-0.

Mr. Miller, 58, has no city management experience but has worked for Waste Connections in LaBelle for eight years and has several years’ experience with Hendry County government as well. He was employed as an equipment operator in the road and bridge department from 1991 to 1993 and later was chief caretaker for the Hendry County Courthouse in LaBelle as a worker for the county maintenance department.

Mr. Miller and his wife, Arlene, live in LaBelle, will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in July and recently became grandparents. They have two grown sons, both married, and their grandson is 16 months old. He is originally from the Buffalo/Rochester area of New York and moved to Florida in 1984, settling in the Cape Coral area. He and his family moved to LaBelle around 1989.

Asked whether he plans to relocate to Moore Haven now that he’ll be managing that city, Mr. Miller said no, “I’m probably going to stay there (in LaBelle). It’s only about maybe a 40-minute drive.”

The council basically gave Mr. Miller a choice between a $75,000 annual salary with his own city vehicle or $85,000 without, and he selected the latter option, saying he’d drive his own vehicle to and from work. A city car will be provided during working hours.

Councilwoman Pat Lucas told him as the council negotiated the particulars on Tuesday night, “We welcome you to our little city.”

Mr. Miller responded: “I haven’t said it yet, but I appreciate the opportunity very much. I’m really, really excited. I had a great time last night. It seemed like a nice hometown. That’s what I’m after.”

Ms. Lucas said, “You’ll like everybody, and I think you’ll do well. We have a good bunch of people here. We’re glad you’re here, and we hope you stay.”

Councilman Eighner said he’d like Mr. Miller to start March 1 if he accepted the job.

Mr. Miller, noting that March 1 falls on a Thursday, said he’d rather begin on that previous Monday and put in a full workweek. “I’m all for that and it’ll give me a couple of days before Chalo Nitka to at least get my feet wet. I will give my notice tomorrow morning.”

He also said he’d use his own vehicle to travel to and from work because he’d prefer the $85,000 annual salary; asked about insurance coverage (which starts 60 days after his employment); and noted he didn’t have a cellphone, which the city will provide.

After a discussion of the two city vehicles available to him, Mr. Miller said he’d rather have the pickup truck used for code enforcement “because I want to be out in the field. If I need to transport things or some of the guys need something, I could throw it in the bed. I want to be able to work.”

Councilman Decker quipped, “We’re going to put ‘City Manager’ and ‘Marshal’ on that truck,” and laughs filled the room.

Chris Felker can be reached at cfelker@newszap.com

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