The City Council threw water on the issue Tuesday, voting 7-2 to repeal the tax, which was originally meant to address homelessness, a outcome of Seattle's historic boom. But Amazon did indicate a willingness to move forward with its hometown in a statement issued after the vote.
The tax charged big businesses, including Amazon, Vulcan and Starbucks, $275 per employee per year, or 14 cents per employee per hour. The company is "deeply committed to being part of the solution to end homelessness in Seattle and will continue to invest in local nonprofits like Mary's Place and FareStart that are making a difference on this important issue", he said.
The $275-per-employee tax would have gone into effect in January for businesses grossing more than $20 million per year in revenue.
The measure's supporters said large employers should pay the head tax because their presence in the city contributed to the rising cost of living.
The head tax killed by City Council today wasn't set to actually start bringing in revenue until 2019.
"Every day, we turn clients away because we don't have enough beds and we don't have enough staff to provide long-term case management to clients in the system", Andrew Coak, a member of the task force and case manager at the Downtown Emergency Services Center, said in a statement.
"The announcement from Mayor Durkan and the City Council is the breath of fresh air Seattle needs", Marilyn Strickland, who heads the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce, said.
City leaders underestimated the frustration and anger from residents, businesses and others over not just a tax increase but also a growing sense that homelessness appears to have gotten worse, not better, despite Seattle spending millions to fight it. "Nobody on Seattle's city council wants to be the one who chased Amazon out of town".
The campaign has raised about $285,000 in cash contributions, with more employers, including Amazon and Starbucks, pledging almost $200,000 in additional support.
Sawant focused her more than 20-minute-long pre-vote comments on the thousands of homeless and unsheltered in Seattle, national movements toward more progressive tax structures - and the Democratic party.
Ad Lightning CEO Scott Moore. Only Mosqueda and fellow citywide councilor Lorena González will stand above the reelection fray. According to the King County Medical Examiner's Office, a record-high 169 people died while homeless in 2017. "Business can help with this process, but they need a seat at the table and a good faith expression from government leaders". "These challenges can only be addressed together as a city, and as importantly, as a state and a region". "So, where is that money going to come from if we don't have the courage to take it?"
Seattle tried raising money past year by passing an income tax on its wealthiest residents.
"I think this is problematic enough and Amazon has shown enough troubling behavior that I would drop out" of the running for HQ2, Richard Florida, an urban expert at the University of Toronto's Martin Prosperity Institute, told The Hill. Others praised the tax as a step toward building badly needed affordable housing.
Nelson Del Rio, co-CEO of the modular housing startup Blokable, believes that the lack of a coherent strategy is widening the chasm between the tech industry and City Hall. One possibility was the head tax, which the council repealed with Durkan's support.
Organizers of the referendum campaign maintain that the city already spends a lot of money on homelessness with few positive results, Ceis said. Amazon donated $25,000 to that campaign.
Amazon and other businesses had sharply criticized the tax, and the online retailer even temporarily halted construction planning on a new high-rise building near its Seattle headquarters in protest.
Mayor Jenny Durkan and a majority of the council have said they scrapped the tax to avoid a costly political fight as a coalition of businesses moved to get a referendum overturning the tax on the November ballot. "That's a really hard thing to do, as a social service provider, and it's a hard thing to watch".