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'I don't see a compromise:' Seattle businesses, community have mixed reaction to head tax

“I don’t see a compromise at all. I see a council that is continually looking for avenues to increase revenue with zero accountability,” said Saul Spady, grandson of Dicks Drive-in founder Dick Spady. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE—Seattle business owners, construction workers and homeowners are reacting to the new Seattle employee head tax with mixed reviews.

For family-owned, mid-sized businesses like Dick’s Drive-in, the new contentious head tax is a tough pill to swallow.

The restaurant was founded in the 1950s. The owner’s grandson, Saul Spady said the burger chain will have to pay tens of thousands of dollars under the new head tax, which will tax large businesses about $275 per employee, per year, for the next five years.

“I don’t see a compromise at all. I see a council that is continually looking for avenues to increase revenue with zero accountability,” said Spady. “They’re forcing us to really think really hard about having a more efficient work force, giving less to charity or possibly not being in the City of Seattle.”

RELATED | Dick's Drive-In says giving directly to charity is more effective than proposed head tax

The head of 20,000 union construction workers is now on board with the head tax after talking to city leaders all weekend. Monty Anderson had concerns about jobs when Amazon paused construction to await the outcome of the head tax proposal vote.

“Am I in favor of a head tax? No,” said Monty Anderson, Executive Secretary of Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council. “But what we had here, we were at the edge of the ledge and we worked our way back through a lot of conversation and talking and that gives me a lot of hope.”

Amazon said Monday it had resumed construction planning on its Block 18 project at Seventh and Blanchard. The development is expected to house thousands of Amazon employees in the new 405,000-square-foot building, but the company also made it clear that it is unhappy with the council's action

Homeowners with Speak Out Seattle are apprehensive about the tax, saying city leaders have already spent money fighting homelessness—but they’re still not seeing the results.

“We still have a problem that’s escalating and totally out of control,” said Shauna Levine with Speak Out Seattle. “I mean most of us don’t even recognize our own city.”

POLL: Will the $48 million head tax make a notable difference in the Seattle homeless crisis? Answer the poll below or click here.


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