Mercer Island City Council approved a series of tax and fee increases and capital project cuts to balance the city's biennial general fund budget for 2013 and 2014 at Nov. 19 public meeting at City Hall.
The city council approved a series of motions to approve various fees and tax increases, including: a property tax increase of 1 percent; a new uniform tax rate on water, sewer, and storm water utilities of 3.9 percent; various utility rate increases (for city and county-provided services); permit fee increases; and an increase to the city's ambulance fee.
Local resident Carv Zwingle sought to appeal to the council's sensitivity toward increasing the tax burden on residents of limited means, referring to himself and others on fixed incomes who had retired who make up a large part of the Mercer Island community.
Zwingle says the increase is due to a general fund shortfall, and asks for a sense of the vision from the council.
"I'm sure your intent is not to create a community of residents in their prime earning years," he said. "These incremental tax increases may not mean a lot to you, but they do to us," he said.
City Council also deferred spending on several capital projects, including the First Hill Drainage System Extension ($425,000 in 2013), the Island Crest Way and 85th Avenue water system improvements ($1.6 million in 2013), and the East Mercer Way Sewer Replacement ($500,000 in 2014).
The council-authorized tax increases are needed, say the city, to balance the budget. The tax increases are combined in the table below with the impacts of a voter-approved Prop. 1 Fire Station/Rescue Truck Levy on the "typical" Mercer Island homeowner.
A "typical" homeowner is defined as a family of four which owns a home with an assessed value of $700,000.
Proposed Tax Increase
Levy lid lift ballot measure for fire station & fire rescue truck (if it passes)
1% property tax increase
Utility tax on water, sewer & storm water utilities (3.4% in 2013 and 5.0% in 2014)
Total annual tax impact
Proposed Utility Rate IncreasesDescription 2012 2013 2014 Mercer Island bi-monthly bill $241.19 $255.41 $262.51 Rate increase over prior year 5.9% 5.9% 2.8% Dollar increase over prior year $13.39 $14.22 $7.10