City Council to meet Monday
The Mercer Island City Council’s regular meeting of Tuesday, Nov. 7 has been rescheduled to Monday, Nov. 6 due to the 2017 general election. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. with a study session.
The meeting will take place in the City Hall Council Chambers at 9611 SE 36th St. The agenda and materials will be posted by 5 p.m. on Nov. 2.
For more, see www.mercergov.org/CouncilMeetings.
Islanders encouraged to prepare for rainy weather
Rainfall that is not absorbed into the ground is known as stormwater. It runs off roofs and down streets and sidewalks, into storm drains, and eventually right into Lake Washington.
The water is not sent through the sanitary sewer system for treatment. Any surface contaminants encountered by the water are washed into streams and then right into the Lake. Residents can help the city of Mercer Island handle this in three ways:
• Keep storm drain grates near your house cleared of leaves so that heavy rains do not cause rapid local flooding.
• Report major blockages immediately to City Utility Crews at 206-275-7608.
• Protect Lake Washington by ensuring that pollution (such as pet waste, car leaks, fertilizers, soil) does not get washed down the drain: “Only rain down the drain.”
In addition, as the winter season approaches, residents are advised to take standard precautions for future windstorm events, such as: preparing to be without power, setting aside non-perishable food and water supplies, planning for the loss of landline phone service and internet connectivity, locating flashlights and spare batteries and knowing their neighbors.
Power outages should be reported to Puget Sound Energy (PSE) directly at 1-888-225-5773. Outage status can be viewed on its real-time map at www.pse.com/outagemap.
Learn how to assemble an emergency kit at www.takewinterbystorm.org.
Mercer Island offers free health insurance advice for seniors
Open enrollment for Medicare plans opened on Oct. 15, and ends Dec. 7.
If you have questions regarding your Medicare coverage, the city invites you to schedule a free appointment to meet with a trained volunteer at the Luther Burbank Administration Building (2040 84th Ave. SE), home of the city’s Youth and Family Services Department (MIYFS).
Since May 2016, MIYFS has partnered with the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, which provides State Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) to help consumers with information, assistance and advocacy about their rights and options for health insurance, health access and prescription drugs. This is just one of the many free services MIYFS offers for seniors.
Contact Betsy Zuber, senior services specialist, at 206-275-7752 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more.
City posts property tax information
As home values rise, people often assume their property taxes automatically go up too. In fact, that’s not the case on Mercer Island, according to the city’s weekly newsletter.
“Washington is one of just two states where property taxes are levy-based, rather than rate-based. That means rising property values on Mercer Island don’t translate to higher revenues for city government,” stated City Manager Julie Underwood.
In a rate-based system, used by the other 48 states, a tax rate is typically expressed in dollars per $1,000 of assessed property value (AV). For example, if the rate is $1 per $1,000AV, then the owner of a $1 million home pays $1,000. The total amount collected fluctuates year to year as property values rise or fall.
Under Washington’s levy-based system, state law only allows a taxing district to collect a specified total dollar amount (the “levy”) each year. If the total value of all property within a jurisdiction falls, the rate is increased in order to raise the required levy amount. But if property values increase, then the rate is actually lowered.
“It’s important for Islanders to understand that our region’s economic boom and rising home prices don’t show up as higher property tax revenue for the city,” Underwood said.
The city’s property tax levy revenues increase by just the 1 percent annually that is allowed by state law. The tax rate has actually fallen as property values have steadily climbed during the last decade (except during 2010-2013).
In 2017, the city will collect just over $13 million in property taxes. For a typical homeowner, that equates to $1,171 or 13 percent of their total property tax bill of $8,841/year (based on median assessed home value of $1.09 million). The rest of the property taxes go to many other entities, such as the state, school district and King County.
Learn more about the city’s budget at www.mercergov.org/FinancialChallenges.