The Seattle City Council Monday afternoon chose a smaller, simpler, "reasonable" compromise to create a new tax on the city's largest companies to help pay for affordable housing and homelessness services. The tax, on companies with more than $20 million in receipts, will amount to about $275 per employee and is intended for use in improving conditions for the city's homeless.
The city spent $68 million on homelessness previous year, according to NBC. That original compromise was voted down Friday.
The city council backed a compromise plan that will charge large businesses about 275 USA dollars per full-time worker each year less than the 500 United States dollars per worker initially proposed. "A tax on jobs at any level is bad economic policy and will negatively impact Seattle's economy and city tax revenues". Schoesler told KOMO News on Monday night.
The proposal's four sponsors said in a joint statement last week that the tax doesn't target one company, though they noted Amazon's record quarterly profits. Councilmember Kshama Sawant has railed against Amazon and called for a much bigger tax.
The idea of laborers lobbying in favor of Amazon, which is frequently decried as an extremely labor-unfriendly company, seems odd, but in this case at least the train of thought is clear. "If we had a weaker movement, we could have won less or even nothing".
Some construction workers opposed the tax out of concern for their jobs while supporters pressed the council to do something about the rapidly expanding number of homeless families in the city. The e-commerce giant paused construction on one of its office towers and said it is reconsidering occupying another.
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The firm had been expecting to house 7,000 employees in the two spaces.
Seattle leaders were not daunted by Amazon's strong position.
The Downtown Seattle Association said in a statement it appreciated Durkan's efforts to modify the original head tax proposal.
"We need to do something about this homelessness crisis", said Justin Bare, who favors the tax.
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Now the mayor and City Council have to decide whether to take this threat seriously. A recent audit of King County's response to the crisis gives weight to that view. So the city is restricted in how it can raise revenue, and now relies on sales and property taxes as well as a business and occupancy tax. "Not just here at city hall, but all across this city", Durkan, said. The Seattle region had the third-highest number of homeless people in the U.S. in 2017.
The tax that was passed Monday was actually a compromise negotiated between Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez and Mayor Jenny Durkan over the weekend. Seattle faces an impossible choice: Either raise revenue from employers and risk driving them away, or keep levying taxes on voters and risk a backlash that could exacerbate the very problem it's trying to solve. Representatives of businesses warned that the tax would drive employers out of town, while others speakers questioned whether Seattle's city government could be trusted to spend the additional tax revenue wisely.