Seattle council members on Tuesday plan to repeal its controversial head tax less than a month after it unanimously passed.
The mayor, along with seven of the nine council members-including the original sponsors of the legislation-issued a statement saying they were moving ahead with a vote to reverse their earlier vote. "These challenges can only be addressed together as a city, and as importantly, as a state and a region", Durkan, Harrell and Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Debora Juarez, Rob Johnson, M. Lorena Gonzalez, Lisa Herbold and Mike O'Brien said in a statement.
Harrell went on to say that "tomorrow we will set the reset button". The approved version of Seattle's "head tax" had called for large employers to contribute $275 per employee annually in an effort to raise roughly $50 million per year toward efforts to address Seattle's growing homelessness crisis through affordable housing and outreach efforts.
Just days after Durkan signed the ordinance into law, the No Tax On Jobs campaign, a coalition of businesses, announced it would gather signatures to put a repeal referendum on the November ballot. The coalition, calling itself the "No Tax On Jobs" campaign, has so far spent almost $300,000 as of Monday morning, according to the Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission.
"The No Tax on Jobs Coalition appreciates that the Seattle City Council has heard the voices of the people loud and clear and are now reconsidering this ill-conceived tax", the group's spokesperson John Murray wrote in a statement.
But City Council President Bruce Harrell isn't calling the political quagmire a mistake. Mosqueda also said the council has already considered other solutions and can't wait months or a year for an alternative.
"The mistake would be to do nothing", Harrell said in an interview with KING 5.
Nearly immediately after the measure passed, business leaders began the referendum campaign, boosted by residents who say they don't trust the council to spend the money effectively.
Seattle Metro Chamber President and CEO Marilyn Strickland released a statement late Monday", "The announcement from Mayor Durkan and the City Council is the breath of fresh air Seattle needs.
Cities have offered lavish tax breaks and incentives to lure the company and its promise of adding tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. She would have to look at raising prices and possibly cutting back on employee perks because of the head tax.
The talk among these Seattleites is that regular people getting involved is what gave the city council a wake-up call.
"That could result in a couple of things: It could result in Republican controlling and overriding us, or it could result in Democrats agreeing that they don't want Seattle having the employee hours tax and taking it away from us". The people have spoken. "I wouldn't say succeeded, I have no idea what was there motive, I just got involved with this to protect my city", said James.
Sharon Lee, Executive Director of the Low Income Housing Institute, said she is very disappointed that city council is considering this kind of reversal. "I think we have to listen". "We are going to have more people living in RVs, more people living on the street, and that is a direct impact on tourism, trade, and businesses". A special meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday. He said the campaign would be watching the council's expected vote on Tuesday and could still submit signatures by Thursday.
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