Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Finance | By Cynthia Curry

Seattle City Council scales back tax to aid homeless amid Amazon opposition

Seattle City Council scales back tax to aid homeless amid Amazon opposition

A flag flies over Starbucks offices in Seattle.

On Monday, the Seattle City Council passed a "head tax", which starting in 2019 will be imposed on the city's largest employers, including Amazon, which CNNMoney reports is Seattle's largest private-sector employer. The mayor instead proposed a tax of $250 per employee.

The coffee giant is just one of an estimated 585 Seattle-based employers that will be hit by the so-called 'head tax.' Those companies represent about 3% of all Seattle businesses, according to Council estimates, with each bringing in annual revenue of $20 million or more in the city.

Supporters cite data showing Seattle's median home prices have soared to $820,000, and more than 41 percent of renters in the city ranked as "rent-burdened", meaning they pay at least 30 percent of their income on housing.

"We could not find the votes we needed", he told The Seattle Times.

The head tax approved on Monday is not the first.

Herdener said Amazon, which had paused planning on two downtown Seattle office towers pending the outcome of the vote, would resume construction planning on one of them - Block 18. She said she ultimately supported the compromise because it creates "a significant new revenue stream" to build more affordable housing.

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Eleven people have been hospitalized for complications related to the infections, the CDC said, but no deaths have been reported. In 1990, three separate outbreaks that sickened about 450 people in three states were traced back to Rose Acre Farms .

Herbold also said she expects King County and the state will add to Seattle's effort with increased regional spending on the crisis.

"City of Seattle revenues have grown dramatically from $2.8B in 2010 to $4.2B in 2017, and they will be even higher in 2018". Amazon said it is being forced to question future growth in the city, and noted that revenue was increasing quicker than the population increase.

"This city continues to spend without reforming and fail without accountability, while ignoring the light of hundreds of children sleeping outside", he said.

The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a smaller version of the controversial "head tax" on Amazon and other top-grossing businesses that has sent shockwaves through the tech industry and municipal government over the past few weeks.

Seattle has a homelessness problem.

"I think we have to convince the public that we're using [funds] wisely and strategically, and I think we've failed in that regard as a city", said Council President Bruce Harrell during Monday's meeting. "If they can not provide a warm meal and safe bed to a five-year-old, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable address or opiate addiction". "This City pays more attention to the desires of the owners of illegally parked RVs than families seeking emergency shelter". It was previously $500 per employee, but that was expected to pass without a veto-proof majority, and Durkan was expected to veto it. The tax that made it across the finish line is actually smaller than the original proposal the city was considering.

González said she was pleased to have the support of nearly every councilmember - Sawant did not support the amendment, but ended up voting in favor of the tax - but disappointed she couldn't find support for more. Well, by taxing businesses of course.

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