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98040 one of wealthiest ZIP codes

Mercer Island, 98040, is among the country’s wealthiest ZIP codes, according to recent rankings by Forbes magazine on the country’s 500 most expensive ZIP codes.

ZIP code 98040 came in at No. 215 with a median home price of $1,084,627 and a median income of $91,904.

Medina’s 98039 beat Mercer Island at No. 54, boasting a median home price of $2.15 million and a median household income of $132,665.

Bellevue and Clyde Hill followed close behind Mercer Island, ranking No. 258 with a median home price of $972,894 in August 2009, and a median household income of $63,358, according to Forbes. Fall City and Sammamish also made it onto the list.

Forbes also named Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue as the country’s 11th most stressful city.

City to purchase snow plows, de-icing system

The City Council has approved city plans to purchase two snow-plows and two maxi pumpers for the acquisition of a de-icing system in preparation for potential snow storms. The council agreed to use $40,000 of the $260,000 originally appropriated in the Equipment Rental Fund for the purchase.

Following last winter’s record snow, maintenance staff assessed how the city could economically improve its ability to remove snow and ice from roads. It was determined that while the city’s response to the 2008 storm was effective, improvement could be made in two ways: by acquiring two additional small plows for neighborhoods with challenging access ($15,000); and purchasing a de-icing system that could serve eight miles (16 lane miles) of main routes throughout the Island when needed ($25,000).

If the de-icing system was used 20 days every winter, the payback would be about six winters. The agricultural byproduct that would be used for de-icing is being used widely in the region.

Last December, maintenance crews put down more than 150 yards of treated sand and salt. The response required 530 overtime hours, and 12 sets of chains were worn out. Crews worked around-the-clock shifts for the first five days. The Island has 100 miles of arterial and residential streets that the city is responsible for clearing. Another 13 miles are private.

City OKs new Allied Waste contract

The City Council finalized a new 10-year contract with Allied Waste on Sept. 8. The new contract, which has been reviewed and tweaked by Councilmembers and city staff more than once, assures that Allied will deliver “higher performance standards” for approximately a 7 percent increase in customer fees. Previously, Allied had asked for a 15 percent increase, yet the Council disapproved of this amount.

According to the new contract, customers will see a gradual annual fee increase, starting with 1.7 percent this year, a 6.7 percent increase as of July 2010, an additional 6.7 percent increase the following July and a 7.2 overall increase beginning in July 2012. Over the remaining six years, Island residents will not see an increase. The average increase that the customer will see over the contract’s 10-year period is 3.4 percent per year.

On Allied’s part, it has promised to improve services in several ways. Allied will conduct “better customer service overall” by upgrading its phone answering service and closely monitoring customer service employees. Higher performance standards and new penalties for “missing performance benchmarks” are expected. Yard waste collection will be available every other week for three months during the winter rather than monthly. Customers will also have the option of accelerating a missed collection due to inclement weather to the following Saturday for a fee of $10.

In addition to these improvements, Allied will replace its fleet of six trucks over the life of the contract, beginning in 2011. The trucks are set to use clean fuel technology.

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