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What King, Snohomish and Pierce counties think of a head tax

Amazon is based in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

As the Seattle City Council prepares to vote on the city’s proposed head tax, other area leaders are distancing themselves from the idea. A primary concern is the effect on job growth.

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King County Executive Dow Constantine told the The Seattle Times that he would not vote for the current Seattle head tax proposal if he were on the council. Constantine also said, “I am very concerned the decision being put before us right now is going to harm our attempts to keep jobs and recruit jobs to our region.”

Executive Constantine is not alone in this sentiment. MyNorthwest reached out to surrounding counties to gauge their interest and perspectives on a head tax.

Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier

Pierce County is not considering a head tax. We would veto it if the Council sent us one and we will actively assist businesses that are looking to relocate to Pierce County because of the high tax burden in Seattle.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers

As County Executive, I would not support a head tax in Snohomish County and none is being considered or discussed to my knowledge.

“Snohomish County is business friendly and appreciates businesses of all sizes who choose to locate here,” added Kent Patton, communications director for Snohomish County. “I am also not aware of any proposals to target businesses with additional taxes in the county.”

Seattle head tax and jobs

The executives’ statements echo concerns of others in the region. Some argue that the head tax could drive employers out of Seattle to avoid ever-increasing costs of doing business. An Eastside chamber representative told KIRO Radio that, “The Seattle City Council is way more effective than our own marketing department. They make business hurt and we make them welcome.” Seattle Chamber of Commerce CEO Marilyn Strickland said businesses are feeling the strain and the head tax (aka job tax) is another cost to push companies out of town.

RELATED: Next Seattle homeless camp could be in South Lake Union

Then there was a letter from 130 Seattle-area executives urging the council not to pass the head tax. This came after Amazon, headquartered in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, halted construction on its office expansion project while placing thousands of new jobs in Boston and Vancouver BC. Councilmember Kshama Sawant has been vocal that she is aiming this tax at Amazon.

It puts a whole new spin on “Amazon Go.”

Regional approach

Executive Constantine told the Times that Seattle’s head tax proposal is putting the cart before the horse. He promotes a region-wide approach. Instead, he said, the region should determine the gaps in resources and services. Then you know where to spend new tax revenues.

His statement comes on the heels of a new agreement between King County and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to fundamentally change the region’s approach to the crises — they will unify their homelessness responses. This unified approach is an extension of the One Table plan — a product of Seattle, King County, and the City of Auburn.

On Friday, Constantine commended Seattle Mayor Durkan for working to develop a compromise to the controversial head tax. He praised her approach to the issue.

“This is the kind of collaborative approach we need,” Constantine said. “The mayor’s plan for investing the funds is a better balance of addressing both immediate and long-term needs. Importantly, it includes resources for behavioral health, and better aligns with the regional approach that I have been working on with Mayor Durkan, Mayor Backus of Auburn, and many others. I remain committed to a region-wide response to the homelessness crisis, and I look forward to One Table’s final recommendations and tackling the work ahead.”

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