Tag Archives: schools

Time to Vote for the School Bond and Levy

Last April voters rejected a school bond to replace buildings and buy new land for a 4th elementary school. There’s a new, scaled-back bond and levy on the ballot.

Mercer Island schools are overcrowded and some of the facilities are outdated. One of this community’s strongest values is education and voting for the bond and levy is a good way to show that. If the need itself doesn’t convince you, consider that federal funds don’t come close to paying for education.

And if you really don’t care about education at all, just vote for your home value. There’s a strong correlation between quality of public schools and home prices. The data shows correlation, not causality, but maybe we shouldn’t test that.


First, a new elementary school to ease overcrowding in the three existing schools. There would be 14 new classrooms and new common space at the middle school. And the high school would get 10 new classrooms and science labs. Here are the proposed classrooms and labs at MIHS:



General maintenance and 26% of the operating budget of the schools.


The Fox says get out and vote, already! I mean mail your ballots so that they are postmarked by Feb. 11.

Voting on Mercer Island

No lines here. It was pretty quiet at West Mercer Elementary.

Voting on Mercer Island

The poll workers were friendly and efficient. No cookies, though.

Voting on Mercer Island

Voting on Mercer Island

Voting on Mercer Island

One of the fun things about voting in person is you get to see a part of the community you might not otherwise. I’ll miss voting in person at the next election. Here’s some art from Mrs. Phillips’ class:

West Mercer Elementary School Art

This morning the get-out-the-vote crowd was at Island Crest Way and 40th, and caught on camera by Richard Sprague.

Mercer Island Property Tax: Schools, City, & Ferry

The Mercer Island property tax rate is of $7.16 per $1,000, or about 0.7% of property value. For a $500,000 house, that’s about $3,600 per year.

Our property tax is really 9 different kinds of property tax, with schools taxes the largest amount and city and county taxes following. In 2008, it breaks down like this:

Mercer Island’s rate is in the low range of King County property tax rates, in line with communities like Bellevue and Yarrow Point, according to the tax assessor. This is because cities with more expensive homes can get plenty of revenue with lower rates.

Tax Rates Down, Tax Bills Going Up

The good news is that Mercer Island’s rate has decreased over the last four years, from $8.6 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2005 to the current $7.16. Of course, house values in the Seattle area have increased 36% since January of 2005, according to the Case-Schiller index. This means your property tax bill has probably increased since 2005.

Breaking the different school rates into their major parts: school, city, county, library, and grab-bag (port, ferry, EMS, flood), we see that each type of property tax rate came down in 2007, except for the grab bag.

Handy comparison chart thanks to Tableau Software.

EMS saw a rate increase of about 50%. It’s hard to argue with EMS– I want ambulances to be as fast and well-trained as possible. Flood and ferry property tax rates are new in 2008, together contributing about $0.155 in tax per $1,000 of assessed value. For a $500,000 house, that’s $78 per year in additional taxes.

A ferry tax? There hasn’t been a ferry on Mercer Island since the Dawn, but maybe if I-90 gets tolled we can lobby for the Washington State Ferry system to get us a new one.

Mercer Island data is from the Mercer Island City Council.

UPDATE: KOMO News published this story about Puget Sound mayors reacting to the financial crisis, saying:
“The problem is simple, even on Mercer Island. Money from property taxes won’t keep pace with inflation. The total property tax can only increase one percent a year. Inflation is running at five times that.”

Yes Schools Yes Gets a Yes

According to the Mercer Island Reporter, the schools levy that campaigned so aggressively at the Mercer Island Bulletin Board passed.

Bulletin board 2008-2-11
Nice work, Yes Schools Yes! Who doesn’t like capital facilities and technology for schools?