The Seattle Times reports the vote did not end the debate.
The swing vote was Councilmember Bruce Harrell. He sided with four other council members in opposing the latest version of the tax, which would have created about $25 million a year in new revenue by taxing businesses with at least $10 million in annual grosses.
While generally supportive of an employee hour tax and generating new funding for homeless services, Harrell said he’s “not comfortable” imposing a new tax on businesses in the rush of budget season…
Councilmembers Debora Juarez and M. Lorena González also voted no, but they pledged to work with other councilmembers to revise the plan into a version they could support.
González said that if a new version has not been passed by March, she will propose one that raises even more than the one rejected by the council on Tuesday.
GeekWire reported shortly after the vote yesterday that some council members want to negotiate with the business community.
“My concern about passing the head tax today is that we have not talked with the 1,100 businesses people so quickly dismiss and say that they can pay for it,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who voted against the tax.
The city’s tech industry is seen as both problem and solution by proponents of the tax.
Several members of the Council targeted the booming tech industry as a driving factor in Seattle’s growing homeless population. Seattle’s business community is experiencing rapid job growth, drawing record numbers of newcomers for high-paying jobs. That influx puts a squeeze on Seattle’s housing market, often driving out lower-income, long-term residents.
GeekWire notes that the head tax is just one of the revenue-raising factors in the city.
Taxes have driven a wedge between some members of the business community and Seattle lawmakers. On Monday, the Council approved a new tax of $8-$14 per night on short-term rental operators. Over the summer, Seattle’s lawmakers unanimously approved an income tax on the city’s highest owners, which faces several legal challenges.
Some element of the tax debate may return to the council as early as next week.
Councilmember Sawant, who expressed fierce support for the proposal and criticized corporate influence, plans to bring a resolution Monday to commit the council to passing an employee hours tax. Councilmember Gonzalez said she’s also been working on a similar resolution with the same goal.
It all makes us wonder whatever happened to the refresh button.