Learn more about Mercer Island’s budget with Telephone Town Hall | City briefs

Learn more about city’s finances with Telephone Town Hall

The city of Mercer Island’s long-term financial projections show a $1.8 million budget gap in 2019 growing to over $18 million by 2023.

In July, the city began a public engagement process to share information about its financial challenges with the community and to seek public input on how best to balance the budget.

As part of its outreach, the city is piloting a new technology that allows interested residents to join a moderated, community meeting by telephone or computer, providing a new option for those who are unable to attend in-person.

Participants may ask questions in real-time, and a recording of the event will be available afterwards. This interactive meeting is known as a “Telephone Town Hall,” and Islanders can join in, or just listen, from any telephone. The event runs from 7-8 p.m. on Oct. 11.

A random cross-section of residents will be called that evening to participate, but if you’d like to join the conversation, register in advance online.

The city has also published the first round of FAQs about the financial challenges, answering many of residents’ early questions. See www.mercergov.org/FinancialChallenges for more.

Route 630 shuttle expands service to south end

Earlier this summer, Mercer Island helped King County Metro host a community meeting for riders of the popular Route 630 commuter shuttle that runs from Mercer Island direct to and from downtown Seattle.

With the recent change in bus schedules last week, Route 630 has now implemented some of the most common rider requests. It extends an extra 20 blocks south, to the south end’s Mercer Village Shopping Center Park and Ride, which has 17 vehicle stalls.

Some schedule chokepoints around Town Center have been eliminated, and the on-demand, flexible service area has expanded. New vehicles are also expected to replace current shuttles in the fall.

Medicine Take-Back Day is Oct. 28

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the city of Mercer Island are once again coordinating on a nationwide drug “take-back” day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 28 at Mercer Island City Hall (9611 SE 36th St.).

This one-day event provides residents with a no-cost, anonymous collection of unwanted and expired prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines. Medications can be dropped off to the west side of the building, in the loading dock area.

Protect kids, families and environment by properly disposing of unwanted and expired medicines. Medicines in the home are a leading cause of accidental poisoning, and flushed or trashed medicines can end up polluting waterways. Rates of prescription drug abuse are alarmingly high. Over half of teens abusing medicines get them from a family member or friend, including the home medicine cabinet, and often without anyone’s knowledge.

Call the Youth and Family Services Department at 206-275-7755 with questions.

City expands VOICE and SVP programs

The Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Department (MIYFS) has expanded its VOICE (Volunteer Outreach In Communities Everywhere) and SVP (Summer Volunteer Program) programs from summer-only operations by adding some limited year-round opportunities for Mercer Island youth to volunteer in the community.

It’s one step short of how the city would like to expand VOICE and SVP, but the Great Recession forced program cutbacks that are still in place today.

“We also used to offer intensive, week-long volunteer opportunities during students’ mid-winter and spring breaks, and they were very popular,” said Tambi Cork, youth development coordinator for YFS. “We would like to talk to our community about returning to that higher level of programming, but at this point city revenues simply can’t support it.”

VOICE is one of the city’s most popular and longest-running programs for kids.Started in 1994, VOICE is now celebrating its 24th year.

This past summer, about 250 students volunteered at more than 50 nonprofit organizations in King County, providing about 10,000 hours of community service.