Mercer Island City Council, 2018. Courtesy of the city of Mercer Island

Mercer Island City Council, 2018. Courtesy of the city of Mercer Island

Mercer Island City Council finalizes levy lid lift ballot language

The measure will go before voters in the Nov. 6 election.

  • Tuesday, July 31, 2018 8:30am
  • News

At its July 24 meeting, the Mercer Island City Council adopted Ordinance No 18-07 to submit a levy lid lift proposal to the voters at the Nov. 6 General Election.

It also appointed community members to the pro and con committees that will submit the official statements on Proposition 1 to the voter’s pamphlet published by King County Elections. Formal instructions from King County about committee roles, responsibilities, and deadlines are available here.

The Pro Committee consists of: Leslie Meagley, Alan Merkle and John Stewart. The Con Committee consists of: Lisa Anderl, Heather Cartwright and Mike Cero.

“A third-party consultant review completed by Management Partners determined that the city’s methodology and assumptions used in its six-year financial forecast model are sound and reasonable, and support the need for a levy lid lift to address the forecasted operating deficits,” according to a city press release.

The levy lid lift would allow the city to continue current service levels without significant cuts to popular safety net and quality of life services that include: police/emergency services; mental health counseling; maintenance of parks, trails, playgrounds and ballfields; recreation programs and services; code compliance services; and right-of-way maintenance.

The levy lift would cost the owner of an average Island home (median assessed value of $1.20 million) $286 in 2019. In order to minimize the size of the levy, the council also directed staff at its July 10 meeting to implement efficiency measures throughout the levy’s six-year duration and draft a financial sustainability plan going forward.

Almost a year ago, the city of Mercer Island began a public engagement process to share information about the city’s financial challenges with the community and to seek public input on how best to balance the budget. While the current 2017-2018 budget has been temporarily balanced using a one-time surplus, the city is projecting significant deficits starting in 2019, increasing to $7.42 million in 2024. Despite cost-saving measures, total expenses are projected to grow faster than total revenues, resulting in a structural deficit.

Staff have delivered dozens of presentations to the community, held numerous public meetings, created video explainers and answered hundreds of questions on the topic. During the past winter, City Manager Julie Underwood convened a 23-member Community Advisory Group that recommended placing a measure on the November ballot (74 percent in favor). The city has also offered many other opportunities to learn more, such as an all-Island mailer, Telephone Town Hall call-in meetings, and special City Council public hearings (video here).

Learn more (including FAQ) at www.mercergov.org/FinancialChallenges.

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