Watch Live: Seattle City Council considers 'head tax' repeal
SEATTLE - A controversial "head tax" on Seattle's biggest businesses is expected to go down in flames at a special City Council meeting at high noon Tuesday - and now everyone is asking: what comes next?
Watch the special City Council meeting: (Mobile users click here)
Council President Bruce Harrell said Monday he will sponsor legislation at Tuesday's meeting to repeal the so-called employee hours tax, which would have cost Amazon and other large companies about $275 per employee, per year, for the next five years to fund a $48 million response to Seattle's growing homelessness crisis.
The City Council passed the measure less than a month ago, but fierce opposition to the tax led city leaders to rethink that approach. Mayor Jenny Durkan conceded Monday that the uproar over the head tax would would lead to a "prolonged, expensive political fight ... that will do nothing to tackle our urgent housing and homelessness crisis."
Several council members agreed and joined Durkan, essentially surrendering to Amazon, Starbucks and other large employers who fought against the tax. But in exchange for that surrender, council members are hoping that members of the business community will join in an effort to find some other, more palatable solution to the homelessness emergency.
"The City remains committed to building solutions that bring businesses, labor, philanthropy, neighborhoods and communities to the table," the statement said. "Now more than ever, we all must roll up our sleeves and tackle this crisis together."
But so far, specific proposals are in short supply.
Harrell said at a Monday news conference that he and other council members hope the business community puts the same energy and effort into solving the homelessness crisis as it did into fighting the head tax.
Meanwhile, at least two City Council members said they would not support a repeal of the head tax
Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda, one of four sponsors of the tax, said she could not support repealing the tax without "a replacement strategy to house and shelter our neighbors experiencing homelessness."
"We cannot wait months or until next year for another proposal or process while people are sleeping in our parks and on our streets," she said in a statement.
Councilwoman Kshama Sawant said on Twitter that the repeal "is a capitulation to bullying by Amazon" and other big business" and called it a "backroom betrayal" that didn't involve her office.
She has scheduled an 11 a.m. news conference Tuesday to share her views.