Seattle City Council votes to enact tax on business to support homeless

THE SEATTLE TIMES:

After a weekend of high-stakes negotiations between Seattle City Council members and Mayor Jenny Durkan, the council voted unanimously Monday to tax the city’s largest employers to help address homelessness.

Starting next year, the tax will be $275 per employee, per year on for-profit companies that gross at least $20 million per year in the city — down from a $500-per-head proposal that Durkan threatened to veto.

The city declared a homelessness state of emergency in late 2015. A point-in-time count last year tallied more than 11,600 homeless people in King County and one in 16 Seattle Public Schools students is homeless.

“We have community members who are dying,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said before the 9-0 vote. “They are dying on our streets today because there is not enough shelter” and affordable housing.

In a statement after the vote and weeks of fierce debate, demonstrations and denunciations, she said the tax “will have a meaningful impact on addressing our homelessness crisis by building housing and providing health services.”

Having paused construction planning on an office tower over the larger proposal, Amazon now will move ahead with it, a spokesman said after the vote. But the company’s plans to occupy a skyscraper under construction are still up the air, he said.

Read more at The Seattle Times

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