The Seattle City Council’s apparent reversal of the $275-per-employee head tax would deliver a major victory to businesses whose political influence has waned in recent years, while blind-siding homelessness services providers by wiping away their biggest achievement.
Leaders from both groups cautioned that while the homelessness response cannot slow down amid an ongoing emergency, the way forward was unclear and glimpses of common ground were fleeting.
The Times notes that business leaders in the city said they were ready to work cooperatively to find solutions to the homelessness crisis. In a statement, Marilyn Strickland, president of the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce, said,
“From day one, the Seattle Metro Chamber has been clear that a tax on jobs is not the way to address the regional homelessness crisis. Our business community is ready to work on solutions—from employment, to technological innovation, to housing. We look forward to collaborating with federal and state government and the region to help address issues that affect housing stability.”
Councilmembers clearly want to change the conversation. Geek Wire reports,
“The mistake would be to do nothing,” [City Council President Bruce] Harrell said in an interview with KING 5. “To put your head down and try to enact a strategy that a lot of people have a lot of problems with.”
Harrell went on to say that “tomorrow we will set the reset button.”
As SCC Insight writes, hitting the reset button may not mean the end of the head tax controversy.
While nothing with this Council is 100% certain until the vote is taken, it appears that tomorrow seven Council members (all but Mosqueda and Sawant) will vote to repeal the head tax, and Mayor Durkan will sign the bill. Of course, what is good for the goose is good for the gander: just as opponents of the head tax organized to file a referendum petition after it passed, supporters of the head tax could file a referendum petition on the repeal. If that were to happen, it would need to be filed with roughly 17,000 collected signatures within 30 days of the Mayor signing the repeal into law, and it would be placed on the November ballot (the King County Elections deadline is August 7).