Seattle residents opposed to the head tax are mobilizing to get rid of it.
Three members of the local business community filed to start a campaign today supporting a repeal of the $275 per employee tax through a ballot referendum. The No Tax on Jobs committee counts among its officers James Maiocco, Chief Business Development Officer at Pushpay (which is based in Redmond), Saul Spady, grandson of the founder of Dick’s Drive-In and Phillip Lloyd, a downtown accountant.
Seattle law allows residents to put forth a referendum on an ordinance if they gather enough signatures before it goes into effect. For the head tax, opponents will need to gather 17,632 signatures by June 15 to put a repeal question on an upcoming ballot.
Reached by phone, Maiocco said the group plans to have a kickoff tonight at Fremont Brewery. (Fremont Brewing, you may remember, is owned by Sara Nelson, the former City Council candidate who was backed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.)
“I think there is collective agreement that the recent head tax is a poor policy decision that discourages job growth and we want to continue to support Seattle jobs,” said Maiocco.
Maiocco said the group has “a law firm downtown” working on petition language, but would not disclose who their attorneys are.
Martin Selig—the well-known local developer and billionaire with a history of failing to pay his City Light bills—told the Puget Sound Business Journal he supports the effort and will let signature gatherers canvas in his office buildings.
A message circulated today on Nextdoor, the neighborhood-based social media network, spreading the word about the referendum drive. The post, which is signed by Maiocco, says that the group plans to "leverage key relationships" with head tax opponents, including tech leaders, construction unions, the Downtown Seattle Association and Chambers of Commerce.
It also calls for volunteers to serve on one of five committees, including an executive leadership committee, a legal committee, a communications and PR committee, and an execution committee.
Supporters of the head tax are already responding. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW released a statement saying, "We stand in support of the already-passed Corporate Hours Tax and call on the corporations and wealthy CEOs to stand down their campaign to undermine the needs and the will of the people of Seattle."
The head tax, passed unanimously last week by the Seattle City Council, will raise an average of $48 million per year over five years to fund housing and homelessness services.