Each year, the monetary strain on Mercer Island residents increases, whether it be in our property tax, utility rates/taxes, or cries for special levies to fund improvements or fulfill obligations. Obviously, costs to run a city government increase over time but are these expenses truly transparent? Discretionary spending is hidden as details are just rolled into large overhead categories. We need more accountability and transparency in our city government to ensure revenues from tax and rate increases are going to support the interests of all residents. Mark Coen is committed to this goal.
Every couple of months I receive a water bill from the city and I wonder why is it so high and after four years, why do we still have the highest chlorine content in our water supply of any city in the region? New building provides some additional fees and taxes but do those funds really support the expansion in our infrastructure? Should not the cost required to update our old and aging water system have been planned along with the planned growth and development? Residents will soon be asked to pay for these updates in 2018 dollars and beyond. I think our council and development committees need someone, like Coen, who will prioritize true community needs.
The character of our neighborhoods is rapidly changing. A city-approved code deviation requests to significantly exceed the building size allowances. Our city has approved deviation requests by large home contractors at nearly 100 percent over the past few years. Coen, as a private citizen, has attended council and development council meetings over the past three years and has represented our neighborhood (at his own expense) in challenging some deviation requests that did not meet applicable building codes. He has been instrumental in pointing out areas in the codes that are ambiguous or have been misinterpreted. Mark is not anti-development; he is for responsible development.
During past couple of years, Sound Transit has taken away our access to high occupancy lanes of Interstate 90. The loss of parking at the Bellevue Way transit parking lot has put a strain from off-islanders coming to use our small parking facility. What did we get for this? Only what Sound Transit sent our way, not what the city could have received from a full-press negotiation. Oh, and the trains that we are funding will be full of Eastside commuters by the time they reach Mercer Island.
Coen is a 17-year Island resident. He is a dedicated professional counselor to abused and neglected children. He has been actively involved with the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services. He has an intimate knowledge of our city government and he will work to maintain fiscal responsibility and ensure a reasonable approach to development in our neighborhoods. I want to encourage fellow islanders to get to know Mark and you will understand he is the right person for our council.