Last week, the mayor of Seattle signed into law an “employee head tax,” which will impose on companies making $20 million or more in annual profits a fee of $275 per Seattle-based worker.
The tax is just the city government’s latest attempt to seize a chunk of the city’s mega-corporations’ earnings. But members of the city council further declared that it was necessary to solving the city’s homelessness crisis, setting aside the $47 million in revenue that the tax will generate to this cause.
The council cast the transfer as a matter of elementary justice: Because the city’s private companies are responsible for creating an economic boom that raised rents and forced lower-income earners out, any opposition to the new tax is really opposition to justice itself.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, people who own a home in King County are paying about 17% more in property taxes this year than last year to help pay for the state’s funding of public education.
But come November, Seattle leaders will be asking voters to approve a bit more of an increase for city dwellers.
City Council members say while the state funding property tax hike pays for basic education, the levy they want to be renewed will be an extra investment to ensure that kids from preschool to high school will have what it takes to succeed.
Council members Lorena Gonzalez and Rob Johnson are sponsoring the measure, which states the council wants to lift the limit on regular property taxes in order to levy additional taxes.
“This is really an important renewal effort for voters to consider,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said in 2014 they made a commitment to voters to expand preschool.
In 2014, Seattle voters approved a $58 million levy allowing low-income kids to go to preschool for free.
Since 2015, the city says the program has allowed affordable or free preschool to 850 families.
Now the city wants to send hundreds more to preschool.
Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Office is also pushing to send high school graduates to community college for free.
The city is merging two expiring levies and putting the issue on the ballot this November 6.
“So it’s just an enhancement of the property tax that people are currently paying and have been since 2011,” Gonzalez said.
The Mayor’s Office says it would amount to about $5 more per week for Seattle homeowners.
But the idea is coming at a time when many in the community are angry over last week’s passage of the controversial employee tax and what they call mismanagement of various city issues.
“It’s not just homelessness. It’s the bike lanes and budget overruns, the Bertha tunnel, and the overruns on that, the First Ave streetcar and overruns on that,” Seattle resident Matt Dubin said.
Dubin is a local attorney now running to become a state lawmaker this year. He says he is upset over city leaders squeezing out the middle class.
“It’s making it impossible for the middle class to live in Seattle. If we keep going down this road nobody will be able to live in Seattle except for the very rich and the homeless,” Dubin said.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk