In January I told you how the City of Seattle, which has a major homelessness problem, created a 75-person task force to solve that problem. From my post:
“The mission of the task force remains fuzzy — with a stated goal of finding solutions to “root causes,” including a lack of affordable housing and gaps in the behavioral health, criminal justice and child welfare systems that jettison people directly into homelessness.”
The City of Seattle has already allocated over $37M to address homelessness and King County has budgeted over $195M for a grand total of over $232M. But it’s never enough.
As I stated in my January blog post, “The solution now? Form a large task force which, no doubt, will recommend more new taxes.”
And, of course, I was correct with my prediction.
From Seattle Times: A Seattle task force will start wrapping up its work Thursday, setting the stage for the City Council to pass a new tax on high-grossing businesses like Amazon.
Supporters and opponents agree the council will almost certainly greenlight some version of the so-called “head tax” next month and allocate the money to combat homelessness.
Exactly how much money the tax would raise, which businesses would pay it and how the dollars would be distributed are among the details still to be sorted out.
That move put the idea on the political back burner, but not for long, because the council vowed to revisit it with recommendations from the community task force and adopt a head tax (also called an employee-hours tax) or something similar by March 26.
To keep the council on track, the task force must make significant progress at its penultimate meeting Thursday, said co-chair Tony To, the executive director of HomeSight, a South Seattle nonprofit.
Underlying the debate is the knowledge that rising property taxes are “really hurting” residents and that Seattle’s homelessness crisis is “worse than it’s ever been,” To said. “People don’t want to keep talking. They want to reach a conclusion,” To said.
The $25 million-per-year-proposal rejected in November — as the council finalized the city’s 2018 budget — would have taken 6.5 cents per employee, per hour, from companies grossing more than $10 million per year (about 5 percent of all businesses in Seattle).
Serving on the task force are people from various organizations — including nonprofits that build affordable housing — and walks of life, including people who have been homeless. Also taking part are Ian Eisenberg, owner of Uncle Ike’s pot shops; Tom Matthews, president of Walsh Construction; and Jesiah Wurtz, owner of Cafe Red.
Other businesses are sitting out the panel in protest. The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which represents 2,200 companies, including heavy hitters like Amazon, declined an invitation because its members saw no point in serving on a panel wedded to an idea they oppose, said Markham McIntyre, chief of staff.
Though the council resolution that created the task force leaves room for the panel to explore other “progressive” revenue tools, it says the recommendations should include an evaluation of a head tax capable of raising $25 million to $75 million a year.
“This is a sham process,” McIntyre said in an interview. “They have a predetermined outcome.”
Read the rest of the story here.