High marks on city report card

The 2013 Mercer Island Dashboard report was released in early July. The survey, which operates as a report card of sorts, encompasses 35 performance indicators drawn from data on city services and input from Island residents. By all accounts the city is performing well in maintaining and improving the life of Islanders.

The Dashboard report was developed in 2007 to measure the “state of the city.” Indicators are divided into six categories: Community safety and security; public service delivery and sustainability; reliable public infrastructure; attractive neighborhoods and business districts; recreational, cultural, health and educational opportunities and public communication and community involvement. Results are delivered on a scale of “needs attention” to “very good.”

The city received markings of “very good” on 20 of its 35 indicators, keeping it level with last year’s 2012 report.

Areas of improvement included “volunteerism and human services funding.” A rating of “needs attention” was due in large part to dropping volunteer hours, which were down by about 10 percent in 2013. That erratic volunteer schedule is partly responsible for the city placing the Thrift Shop remodel on hold this year. Though, Chip Corder, finance director for the city said he’d spoken to Thrift Shop staff who had conveyed that volunteer hours were already on the uptick this year.

Town Center also received ratings of “needs attention.” Seventy-one percent of surveyed residents are “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the downtown corridor, a drop from 76 percent in 2011. Asked how they would improve the Town Center, if given the opportunity, the majority would increase parking (22 percent). Eleven percent would stop over-development. Roughly the same percentage -- 9 percent -- suggested further construction and development. Eight percent would add more restaurants; 7 percent would increase pedestrian safety. The city has made it a point this year of brainstorming how to bring more vitality to the neighborhood.

Lower ratings for the city’s water utility infrastructure -- consistent with last year -- also indicate an aging system. Forty percent of the city’s water mains are more than 50 years old.

Contributing to the city’s overall high rankings, though, were sales tax per capita increases of 10 percent in the business sector and 12 percent in construction. Crime rates also reflected well on the city. Mercer Island consistently ranks at number two for crime prevention effectiveness among Eastside cities Sammamish, Bellevue, Issaquah and Kirkland.

The Dashboard report allows for resident feedback but can also help the city plan for long-term issues, as with Mercer Island’s water utility infrastructure.

For the full report, visit and click on the July 7 agenda packet.

A closer look

Mercer Island received rankings of “very good” on 20 of its 35 indicators, the same as last year.  Below, a sampling of a few categories and how the data is collected:

-“Timely crime responses” (very good): The average response time was 4.6 minutes in 2013 vs. 5.1 minutes in 2012;

- “Risk management” (very good): The average number of total insurance claims between 2009 and 2013 is 125, vs. the average of 208 claims for other Eastside cities;

-”Sewer utility infrastructure” (improving): The number of sewer system backups per 1,000  service connections in 2013 averaged 0.14 on Mercer Island vs. the jurisdiction average of 0.12.



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