Best return on investment
My wife and I moved to Mercer Island 10 years ago because of the quality of life here – safe neighborhood, good schools and community support for seniors and youth.
With the recent increases in property tax, our elderly neighbors are worried if they can afford to continue to live on the Island. They see my “Islanders YES” yard sign and ask me why I plan to vote for Proposition 1, the levy lid lift. My “Yes” vote is to preserve our quality of life and ensure that the legacy which the longtime Mercer Island residents like them built will continue.
For $1 more a day on average, we will maintain our firefighters and police, keep the significant programs we provide to our seniors and families at our Community Center, and retain our school counselors, to name a few. These benefits are the best return on my investment.
Did city staff find efficiencies first before proposing to cut programs and services should Prop 1 not pass? Yes. They have tightened the city’s belt and lived within a budget for more than 10 years. I had the honor of serving on a Citizens Advisory Group and spent more than four months examining the city’s finances and staffing. After exploring all the options, 17 of the 23 members recommended the levy lid lift to go before the Mercer Island voters.
Prop 1 gives us a chance to say YES to preserve our quality of life on the Island. I hope you’ll join me in saying “Yes,” too.
Citizens Advisory Group member
Cartoonist needs broader focus
It is appropriate and expected that an editorial cartoonist will use his or her drawings to express an opinion. However, the best political cartoonists are able to do so without continual overt bias, and over a period of time explore the entire spectrum of political thought.
Unfortunately, the cartoonist whose drawings appear in the Reporter every week is not capable of such exploration, instead choosing to represent only the far right and the views of the National Rifle Association. While the Reporter’s cartoonist certainly has the right to express these views, I think they would be better suited to a similarly right-wing publication like the National Review or the American Conservative.
Surely our local paper deserves a better cartoonist — one who is capable of seeing the world with a more expansive perspective.
New rules would limit free speech
New rules on the use of public spaces proposed by the Trump administration and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke pose a grave danger to this country’s most precious free speech rights and must be stopped. The public comment period for the regulations ends Oct. 15 and people around the country are writing in to voice their opposition by going to www.justiceonline.org/save_free_speech.
The proposed regulations impose steep fees and costs on demonstrations in Washington, D.C.; effectively ban protests on the White House sidewalks; force protesters to pay the costs of barricades erected at police discretion, park ranger wages and overtime, and harm to grass from standing on it; create waiting periods removing any obligation of the government to promptly process or approve permits; restrict and suppress spontaneous demonstrations that respond to breaking events; create hair-triggers allowing police to end protests for the most minor of issues; restrict sound and staging; ban long-term vigils or protest presences; make protesters pay for expensive “turf covers” — among many other radical restrictions of free speech rights.
These changes will affect all park land under the National Park Service (NPS) in the nation’s capital including the National Mall, Lafayette Park, the White House Sidewalk, Lincoln Memorial, the Ellipse, Freedom Plaza and the sidewalks and parkland along Pennsylvania Avenue — including the sidewalk in front of the Trump Hotel.
This is a dangerous anti-democratic proposal. If enacted, this will mark the end of free speech as we know it and will be a dystopian model that spreads across the county.
Vote “Yes,” but understand cost
I have reviewed Proposition 1 the levy lid lift Mercer Island voters will vote on this November. I discussed the tax increase with city staff who offered further facts that voters should know. The six-year increase is approximately 45 percent, but on different dollar amount than I first thought. This proposed increase needs further disclosure so voters know the real tax dollar increase.
This proposed tax increase only applies to a percentage (the portion that goes to the city) of your property taxes which is paid to King County. At this point in time the city receives about 11.5 percent of the taxes we pay to King County. Our property values have gone up each year in the 13.8 percent range over the last nine years. Even if your property values go up the city can only receive from King County a 1 percent increase over the prior year’s taxes remitted to the city. Consequently the 11.5 percent the city receives now could lower in future years as a percentage of the total taxes paid. In 2008 the percentage paid to the city was 17.7 percent, and because property values increased that percentage decreased to today’s rate of 11.5 percent to maintain the 1 percent lid. Again the city’s portion can only increase year over year by 1 percent.
Proposition 1 would lift the lid amount by approximately 24 percent in year one and 3 percent thereafter (a 2-percent increase over the 1 percent currently in effect). On a median valued house this would approximate $250 to $300 in year one and $30 to $40 in years two through six. In year seven this increase would go back to 1 percent. The $30 to $40 dollars per year is the margin rate increase. However you must include the first year increase of $250 to $300 and this means the increase per year for six years is $30 to $40 plus the year one increase of $250 to $300. Or $280 to $340 per year. Over six years the Prop 1 is about $1 per day. In year seven your base city property tax will carry forward from year six and increase at 1 percent per year.
I think this is a fair statement of the dollar impact Proposition 1 could have for a property owner on Mercer Island. If your property taxes were $8,500 in year one it will go up by the Prop 1 lid increase each year. So you need to build into your budget the appraised value your property goes up each year, plus the Prop 1 increase and the McCLeary Tax increase we could see next year.
Tim (TJ) Stewart
Why I am voting “No” on Prop 1
Proposition 1 will be a permanent tax increase. Previous levies have expired when their term is up. Not this one. New levies will be added on top of Prop 1.
In addition, Prop 1 was written with no exemptions for low income and disabled property owners. Our city council did not take the time to protect our most vulnerable populations.
You can do something about school shootings
When I became a mom, my eyes were opened to a world of small wonders, fascination in the simple things, and the realization that there is no greater joy than to just be with the people you love.
On Dec. 14, 2012, as I held my sleeping baby, I learned that 20 children had been brutally murdered in their kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. I cried, imagining their parents’ irreparable sorrow. Their world of small wonders shattered. Their greatest joy violently ripped from their lives. I looked at my sleeping infant and vowed: “This will not happen to you.”
But how could I be sure? What was I doing, to protect her? The reality is, school shootings occur with sickening rapidity. Since 2000, there have been 751 children killed or injured in 132 school shootings. Ninety-five (95) of those shootings have occurred in the past six years, with 52 percent occurring in a K-12 school. Of these K-12 shootings, 70 percent of the shooters were minors who should never have had access to a gun. We need to make it so much harder for kids to get their hands on guns.
This week, you have a chance to do something about that. Please vote “Yes” on I-1639.