Economy

Mayor Durkan offers her own, smaller Seattle head-tax plan

Mayor Durkan offers her own, smaller Seattle head-tax plan”

Durkan's office confirmed the proposal to GeekWire Thursday evening. Almost 600 large employers making at least $20 million in gross revenues would pay about $500 annually per worker.

The City Council is proposing a tax on employee hours to raise about $75 million per year for affordable housing and homelessness services.

An amendment to the $75 million proposal, meant to bring it closer in line with Durkan's criteria, would do away with the payroll tax.

Both plans would funnel revenue towards building affordable housing and adding homelessness services and shelters.

Opponents call the tax misguided and say it would have harmful consequences. It would also put the tax up for review after five years. There are five councilmembers who support the existing tax proposal.

"We oppose this approach, because of the message it sends to every business: if you are investing in growth, if you create too many jobs in Seattle, you will be punished", the companies said. However, the mayor's office said council members Rob Johnson, Sally Bagshaw, Bruce Harrell, and Debora Juarez support her alternative.

Council members have a crucial finance-committee on the issue Friday. He said he's willing to look at the mayor's proposal and he's willing to be flexible.

Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, a socialist, said affordable housing is critically important and the council should "stand up to Amazon and Jeff Bezos' bullying".

Monty Anderson, Executive Secretary of Seattle Building Trades, told KING 5 that Amazon would move forward with construction of the office tower it paused if Durkan's plan moves forward.

Amazon raised the stakes last week when it halted construction planning on a 17-story tower near its hometown headquarters as it awaits a tax vote. He said the tax would threaten jobs.

But she said "what is on the table right now" doesn't meet her requirements. "And I don't think it's fair to raise the sales tax, we don't actually even have sales tax authority, I don't think it's appropriate to go after property tax, we just don't have great tools and I think the employee hours tax as we've set up is a fair tool", he said.

O'Brien said, whichever proposal moves forward, the need for additional resources is clear.

A final vote on the so-called "head tax" is expected Monday.



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