The Seattle City Council Monday afternoon chose a smaller, simpler, "reasonable" compromise to create a new tax on the city's largest companies to help pay for affordable housing and homelessness services.
Companies that gross $20 million or more a year will now face an annual tax of $275 per employee.
Durkan had proposed halving the proposed $500 per employee head tax, and council president Bruce Harrell floated legislation with similar language on Friday, but that didn't get enough support.
Republican State Senator Mark Schoesler says he will be taking action against the tax, introducing legislation that says it is an unauthorized tax unless approved by legislature, which "reinforces current law".
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That "head tax" formula is created to raise $45 million to $49 million a year over the five-year life of the tax - down from an original $75 million annually - to build more affordable housing and support services for the homeless. Under the amended tax, Amazon will be on the hook for about $11 million annually, rather than the $20 million that the original proposal would have levied. A count past year found King County's homeless population to have reached more than 11,000, and a pro bono report issued last week by McKinsey & Co. for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce found that it would cost about $400 million to address the shortage of affordable housing in the area.
The head tax has ignited something of an existential debate for Seattle over its monumental growth. Almost 600 employers - about 3 percent of all Seattle businesses - would pay the tax starting in 2019.
It also includes $2.3 million in revenue to go towards a five-year goal of picking up 950,000 pounds of garbage.
The tax that was passed Monday was actually a compromise negotiated between Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez and Mayor Jenny Durkan over the weekend. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), called Monday's vote a "huge victory" and noted that yearly revenue from the new tax on Amazon will be roughly equivalent to what Bezos makes in an hour. King County, which includes Seattle, recorded a record 169 homeless deaths past year.
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The company lobbied against both tax proposals and Drew Herdener, an Amazon vice president, said the retail giant was disappointed in Monday's vote, according to The New York Times.
The Associated Press reports that the Seattle region had the third-highest number of homeless people in the US, despite the city spending $68 million on combating homelessness a year ago.
González said she had hoped to be voting "on a different package" with more money, but "I'm glad to be able to finally move this forward".
Even though the company chose to resume one of its building projects, Drew Herdener, an Amazon vice president, said in a statement, "We remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council's hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here".
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Amazon says it has contributed a cumulative total of $40 million to Seattle's affordable housing fund through fees associated with its real estate development in the city.