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City of Mercer Island

Proposition No. 1
Levy Lid Lift for Park Operations and Maintenance

The City Council of the City of Mercer Island adopted Ordinance No. 22-13 concerning property taxes for park operations, maintenance, and capital projects.

This proposition funds operations and maintenance of parks and open spaces, including Luther Burbank Park, and funds playground replacements and forest restoration in Pioneer Park and Engstrom Open Space; increases the parks levy from $980,122 (2022) to $1,629,322 (2023); and sets the maximum tax levy at $0.862/$1,000 for 2023 collections and 15 years thereafter (2023 levy amount would be used to calculate subsequent levies), per RCW 84.55.050. Qualifying seniors, veterans, and others are exempt, per RCW 84.36.381.

Should this proposition be approved:



Since 2008, Mercer Island has had a parks levy lid lift to pay the costs of operating and maintaining City parks, open spaces, and recreational facilities, including the full costs of operating and maintaining Luther Burbank Park. The current parks levy lid lift was approved by Mercer Island voters in 2008 and is set to expire on December 31, 2023. 


Proposition 1 is a replacement parks levy that will fund operations and maintenance of parks, open spaces, and recreation facilities, including Luther Burbank Park, and will fund playground replacements and forest restoration at Pioneer Park and Engstrom Open Space. Details about the levy lid lift are described in City Ordinance No. 22-13.


If approved, this proposition increases the parks levy from $980,122 in 2022 to $1,629,322 in 2023 and sets the maximum City property tax levy rate at $0.862/$1,000 for 2023. The 2023 levy amount would be used to calculate subsequent levies for 15 years thereafter, per RCW 84.55.050.


Because collections under this parks levy lid lift will begin in 2023, the City will end the existing parks levy one year early as declared in Resolution No. 1628, should voters approve this replacement levy.


Proposition 1 is estimated to cost the owner of a median-valued $2,375,000 Mercer Island home $18.94 per month in 2023, which is an estimated increase of $7.55 per month compared to the current parks levy in 2022. Qualifying seniors, disabled veterans, and others are exempt, per RCW 84.36.381.

Our parks and playgrounds are cherished resources!  In a 2020 survey, 99% of respondents said that parks and recreation opportunities are essential to the quality of life on Mercer Island.  This parks levy will provide for care of our city parks and open spaces, replacement of aging playgrounds across the Island, and continuing native plant restoration at Pioneer Park and Engstrom Open Space.


Playgrounds support the physical and mental well-being of everyone in our community, from children to parents to grandparents. This parks levy provides for needed playground improvements across the Island. Proactive planning will ensure that our playgrounds are safe, up-to-date, and accessible, inclusive, and welcoming to all of our residents.


Pioneer Park was created to protect this unique native forest. Representing 40% of our open spaces, the Park provides varied recreational experiences, educational and scientific opportunities, and wildlife habitat and ecosystem protection. The Park’s Forest Management Plan guides regeneration and resiliency efforts. With funding from the current parks levy, the City has made considerable progress on the Plan, but achieving this vision requires the stable, long-term funding this parks levy will provide.


Vote Yes to preserve and enhance our precious parks and playgrounds!


Submitted by: Marie Bender, John Hamer, Ashley Hay,

We already have a Parks Levy through December 2023, so why vote another levy that begins January 2023 at 66% more per year than the current levy?  The City Council wants to lock in a bloated, 16-year levy through 2038 worth $26 million before Islanders feel the pain of double-digit inflation.


This levy creates a slush fund for park and non-park uses. Ordinance No. 08-08 limited the current levy to “operating and maintaining” parks.  Ordinance No. 22-13, though called an O&M levy, allows funding “Park Operations and Capital Projects and other uses of levy proceeds,” at the City Council’s sole discretion. This levy is so unrestricted that proceeds can be used to replace funds currently dedicated to parks, freeing those funds for non-park purposes!


To get other funds, the City must specify required uses.  The millions in Federal funds the City received prohibited use as replacement funds to free funds for other purposes.  The City hasn’t done its homework to determine a required list of projects, so it expects Islanders to write a $26 million blank check.


Vote No!  The City already has a levy and can use 2023 to determine a mandatory project list before asking Islanders for funds.


Submitted by: Ira Appelman,

In 2022, the City, with significant input and support from citizens, completed the PROS Plan, a framework for meeting the needs of our community. This Levy, which when passed will replace the existing levy, is a vital step towards implementation. The Levy’s term will ensure completion of major priorities, playgrounds and Pioneer Park restoration.  It will also fund ongoing parks maintenance and operations. This Levy is sound, proactive City planning.

Vote Yes to MI Parks!

Submitted by: Marie Bender, John Hamer, Ashley Hay,

Islanders should know what they are asked to fund.  Instead, the named projects are optional, and the City Council determines funding at its sole discretion.  The Council has already decided that $350,000 will fund vandalizing Deane’s Children’s Park, cutting down trees and building mountain bike facilities, which previously vandalized Upper Luther Burbank Park!


The Council shouldn’t have a slush fund for special interest payback.  Vote No until we know exactly what we are voting for.


Submitted by: Ira Appelman,

Simple majority (RCW 84.55.050)

For questions about this measure, contact: Andrea Larson, City Clerk, (206) 275-7793,

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