Petitioners gather signatures to repeal Seattle head tax; businesses ponder their future in the city.

The long weekend offered petitioners an opportunity to gather signatures to repeal Seattle’s controversial head tax. KOMO News reports on their efforts.

On Memorial Day, opponents of Seattle’s controversial tax on big business worked.

They’re pushing to get more than 18,000 signatures of registered voters collected to give Seattle voters the final say about the tax.

On Monday, volunteers joined the petition drive effort.

Campaign donations are paying for signature collectors outside libraries, festivals and other large gatherings, but volunteers joined the drive at Dick’s Drive-Ins around Seattle on Monday, including the Queen Anne and Crown Hill locations.

In The Lens, reporter TJ Martinell describes the controversy as a new “battle for Seattle.”

It’s a fight where the battlefields are drawn by political jurisdictions, casualties are measured by lost economic output, and victories are determined by new employers and job creation.

In the statewide skirmish that’s intensifying over Washington’s business climate, the Seattle City Council’s unanimous vote approving a $275 per-employee job tax earlier this month may be the official opening shot in the new ‘battle for Seattle’.

The controversy has made made the city a target of opportunity for economic development groups.

Although [state Sen. Guy] Palumbo is “pretty confident” the head tax will get repealed, other cities on the West Coast aren’t waiting around to take advantage of it. The Greater Phoenix Economic Council has started an ad campaign to get Seattle businesses to move there…

The day the Seattle head tax was approved, a letter to an undisclosed Seattle executive from the Greater Sacramento Economic Council touted the region’s business climate, specifically citing the lack of a head tax as well as its adjacency to greater venture capital opportunities.

KING 5 also reports on the Phoenix recruiting effort.

Chris Camacho of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council said the main message to Seattle companies is, “How they can work with government instead of being targeted by government?”

Camacho said he’s already in discussion with Seattle companies…

“A few of them have reached out to us already and we’re under a non-disclosure [agreements] with others,” he said.

Camacho said the campaign’s goal is to attract 30 Seattle companies to relocate or expand to Phoenix…

Jon Scholes, President of the Downtown Seattle Association, said he’s not surprised other cities are trying to use the head tax to lure jobs away.

“Seattle has great fundamentals,” said Scholes. “But policies like what we’ve seen out of City Hall can quickly screw that up and send jobs and investment elsewhere.”

Geek Wire has more on this campaign.

Ironically, the head tax, which supporters touted as a way to help the city relieve homelessness, has set back constructive regional efforts to develop a coordinated strategy. The Seattle Times reports,

When King County Executive Dow Constantine agreed to partner with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on regional discussion of fighting homelessness earlier this year, it was partly to pre-empt the Seattle City Council’s brewing proposal to tax high-grossing businesses…

The firestorm that erupted over the proposal helped delay the regional efforts to fight homelessness, Constantine said.

While that regional plan has yet to be developed, it’s not likely to include a head tax as a funding source.

Constantine criticized Seattle’s head tax when it passed this month, and said this week he’s also opposed to a countywide head tax as well.

We’ll continue to watch this evolving saga.