Seattle’s waterfront is undergoing a massive $4.7 billion renovation, including rebuilding the seawall, tearing down the Alaskan Way Viaduct and replacing it with a deep-bore tunnel, rebuilding Colman Dock and the ferry terminal, remaking the Alaskan Way surface street, and improving park and streetscape elements as part of the city’s $688 million Waterfront Seattle initiative. $200 million of the funds to pay for Waterfront Seattle are proposed to come from a new Local Improvement District: a special assessment on downtown properties that are expected to increase in value because of the project. But some residents who will be subject to the assessment are unhappy that they are being asked to foot part of the bill for a project they say will benefit the entire region.
Let’s look at how LIDs work, and how this one in particular is structured.
This afternoon the City Council resolved its stalemate and passed a compromise “head tax.” It imposes an annual tax of $275 per full-time employee (or full-time equivalent) on businesses making $20 million or more in revenues per year in Seattle.
This morning all nine Council members showed up for the Finance and Neighborhoods Committee deliberations on the proposed head tax. Several of them offered substantive changes to the tax. They debated and voted for two and a half hours, and when the dust settled, none of the substantive amendments proposed had passed — just a few technical changes and clarifications. They then voted the bill out of committee, sending it to Monday afternoon’s Full Council meeting for final approval and a probable veto by Mayor Durkan.
Friday morning the Council will once again take up the proposed head tax, this time offering and voting on specific amendments. While we can expect some last-minute amendments, several have already been posted online. Here’s what will be up for consideration.
Despite various factions in the city lining up either for or against the proposed “head tax” on large businesses in Seattle, the City Council rolled up its sleeves today and got back to work debating the nuts and bolts of the proposal. Their goal is to finish it up on Friday and pass it into law next Monday.
Yesterday afternoon the City Council got an update from the City Budget Office on projected revenues and expenses. They weren’t sounding an alarm — yet — but the numbers suggest there is cause for concern about 2019 and beyond.
This morning, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced her proposal for a single property tax levy to replace two that expire at the end of this year: the Families and Education Levy and the Seattle Preschool Levy. It would also fund her Seattle Promise college tuition program.
This afternoon the City Council held a three-hour roundtable session with representatives from a variety of Seattle businesses and nonprofits, to hear their thoughts on the recommendations for a new employee-hours tax to pay for homelessness services. It was a surprisingly frank conversation.