Letters to the Editor

City Council lacks fiscal responsibility

As a Mercer Island resident, I am very concerned about the continuing lack of fiscal responsibility demonstrated by our City Council. The new Allied Waste contract gives the company a fee increase in excess of 20 percent, in addition to CPI through 2012. These giveaways are part of a 10-year contract that promises Allied Waste increases of CPI through 2019. Mercer Island residents deserve a City Council with either better negotiating skills or the initiative and will to submit contracts to competitive bidding. The Allied Waste debacle isn't the only example of the City Council's failure to safeguard Mercer Islanders' finances. Money that Mercer Island residents voted for Parks and Recreation "Operation and Maintenance" has instead been appropriated for capital improvements on the Southern Mercer Playfields. If the monies for operation and maintenance are being used for capital projects, then one has to wonder if O&M is presently being neglected, or indeed if the levy was necessary in the first place. Mercer Islanders need and deserve to know what we are voting for and not have monies redirected without the input of those providing them. It should be noted that the only Council member to vote against these financially irresponsible proposals was Mike Cero. Furthermore, whether the Merrimount intersection should be left as is without additional cost, a "smart" traffic light added for the cost of one of the three new traffic lights in downtown Mercer Island, or $500,000 spent narrowing ICW — these alternatives need to be presented to Mercer Island voters. How the Merrimount intersection traffic problem is resolved should not have been postponed until after the election. We need to know how our elected representatives will act: whether they will seek the broad consensus of all Mercer Islanders, or the narrow consensus of their fellow City Councilmembers only. Narrow consensus has left us with an Allied Waste contract that we will be paying for over the next 10 years. We need a City Council dedicated to open government and fiscal responsibility.

Deborah Ehlers

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