The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is joining its downtown cousin the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce in a “call to action” against a proposed revival of a Seattle business “head tax” to help pay for homelessness services in the city.
“They are expected to raise about $25 million a year for this proposal and put it towards homeless programs that only take us backwards,” the announcement from the Capitol Hill pro-business nonprofit reads.
CALL FOR ACTION: Urge Council to focus on a comprehensive solution to homelessness in lieu of proposed "job tax": https://t.co/DymMSTrjkO
— CapitolHillChamber (@caphillchamber) October 23, 2017
“The solutions from the City Council this year just entrench the folks that are living outside in tents and RVs and there has been no hardcore action about creating housing itself,” Sierra Hansen tells CHS about the group’s move against the tax proposal. Hansen, who has headed the group since 2015 and is now transitioned to lead the chamber-related Broadway Business Improvement Area as it pushes toward a Hill-wide expansion.
CHS reported on the proposed tax from Mike O’Brien and Kirsten Harris-Talley earlier this month. Under the proposal, businesses that gross in excess of $5 million a year would pay the tax. The council members calculated each business would pay approximately $100 per full time employee a year. “We have very limited tools for raising revenue in this city,” Harris-Talley said when the proposal was announced. “There’s no reason they shouldn’t have an opportunity to give back to the folks who are impacted by them being here.”
Though there haven’t been any proposals to lower the revenue cap, the Capitol Hill chamber group warns that reinstating a head tax on big businesses might be just the beginning.
“We recognize that there may not be many neighborhood business that fall with in this $5 million a year gross receipts however there is concern that once council passes this new tax, they will have the rights to lower the threshold and more businesses will be included,” the CHCC’s announcement reads.
Hansen said the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce would like to see increased investment in programs like the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program and the Multi-Disciplinary Team to provide service outreach along with law enforcement in the Seattle core.
Public comment for the Wednesday, October 25th session of the city council’s budget committee is slated for 2 PM. You can find contact information for city council members at seattle.gov/council/.