The Seattle City Council’s proposal on a $75 million per year head tax on large employers passed out of committee on Friday by a 5-4 vote. Prior to approving their proposal, the committee rejected Mayor Jenny Durkan’s smaller plan that would have cut the $500 a year tax per employee in half to $250, generating $40 million a year in revenue.
The current head tax proposal would require businesses with over $20 million in gross revenue to pay $500 per employee each year to finance programs addressing homelessness. Of the $75 million raised by the tax, 75 percent would be used to create 1,780 affordable housing units over the next five years; 20 percent designated to the city’s Housing and Human Services department. The proposed tax would be paid by about 600 companies, 3 percent of the city’s businesses.
Before Friday’s vote, King County Excutive Dow Constantine stated that he believes the head-tax plan should be shelved, going on to say:
I don’t believe we should be starting with the question of resources before we’ve identified the solutions. Identify the major components of a long-term solution to homelessness. Once we agree on the things we are going to do first, identify which governments, which businesses, which nonprofits and philanthropies will take on each piece of the puzzle … identify the gap in resources, and together agree on a region-wide public and private approach to filling that gap.
Amazon previously announced that they have halted construction on a tower downtown over the head tax issue. That tower, Block 18, is supposed to house 7,000 new jobs. They also shared that they are evaluating options to sub-lease all office space in their recently leased Rainier Square building.
A full Council vote will be held at City Hall at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 14. Durkan could still veto the head tax if it passes the full council on Monday by a 5-4 vote. If the proposal fails it could head back to committee to undergo further negotiations.
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