Seattle City Council Discusses the Amazon Tax. Meanwhile, the Budget Is Fucked.

Comments

1

Screw this tax. The first thing they need to do is start firing people, starting with the staff of the City Council.

5

From KIRO radio's Dori Monson.

"In 2014, the City of Seattle budget was $4.4 billion. Then along came Ed Murray. I guess he decided hiring thousands of government workers might help him atone for the other misdeeds in his life. Murray added nearly 4,000 employees to the city payroll. With salary and benefits for a city worker coming to nearly $100,000 per employee, that added about $400 million to the payroll. (Jackkay, Wow, that might cover the current $300 Million Dollar deficit! What would happen if, oh 3000, of these new Essential workers were furloughed and had to live off unemployment like so many others do?)

So, as they whine about a deficit that could be as much as $300 million, you can see that it is entirely caused by bloated government and incompetent managers in charge.

That city budget that was $4.4 billion in 2014? It swelled to $5.9 billion in 2019 and over $6 billion in 2020. And what are we getting for all that spending? Some of the worst gridlock in the nation. The worst heroin and homelessness problem in the country. Fewer cops on the street than similar-sized Boston, which has a city budget about half that of Seattleā€™s. "

Of course the answer is New/More Taxes! Hooray!!!

While so many families must cut drastically back on their spending the City of Seattle can't! More Taxes on the general public with never even a mention on reducing current regressive Taxes.

Over Half a Century of one Party Democratic Rule this is what you get.

8

"the tax is anticipated to mobilize $1.9 billion on around 5,600 affordable units."

Affordable? if i kept track of the zeros correctly while punching button on my calculator, that is more than $320,000 per unit! About three times the assessed value of my house! Of course I don't live in Seattle (Hi Katie) however, I do work in Seattle at a medium size business so I guess I won't be expecting any raises any time soon. (not that I need one living in a house 1/3 the price of "affordable")

9

Tax the shit out of everything Bezos owns. Billionaires should not exist.

12

@11: This is towards the high end of construction costs, not outrageous but high. Well, it's not outrageous if the city can come in on budget. You can build a nice, new apartment in a close in neighborhood for about this amount per unit. You can also buy an existing building in a neighborhood a bit further out for about 1/3rd less.

Since you will be collecting some rent, you should also be financing some of this, using future rents to pay for the financing, meaning quite a bit of the costs should be coming from future rents, even if they're below market rates. If this is factored into the costs already, then the prices truly are outrageous. If not, it shows a complete lack of imagination by the person putting together these estimates about how they could do more with less.

13

@12- "more with less" is not exactly in the Seattle city councils wheelhouse, unless you're talking about it's attitude towards constituents. "Less with more" would be accurate.

14

And I'm shocked xina hasn't chimed in a dozen or so times. Taxing Amazon is all she has, she wets her knickers over the thought.

15

xina's Contributions to Slog have been varied and Valued, whilst Frances wets her panties at the thought of xina's panties. Shocking.

16

Okay, my working premises are:
A) Seattle IS going to be facing an ongoing financial crisis, caused by both diminished revenue and looming infrastructure costs.
B) It is pointless to re-fight lost battles, e.g. the employer head tax or any form of income tax.

So the challenge is to address the revenue side in the most non-regressive way possible.
Now it occurs to me that there has been a huge run-up in property values over the past decades which has accentuated our current division into haves and have-nots.
So my proposal would be for some form of a million-dollar-property surtax.
It would be targeted, it would be coherent, it would seem fair. I don't know if it would be constitutional, I am not a lawyer.

20

@18- You raise the philosophical point of whether people should be insulated from rising property taxes.
And I have to answer candidly your question- yes, I believe you should be forced to sell and move if you can't afford the new property taxes.
Your financial situation as a long-term Seattle property owner may be precarious but there are a huge number of property owners who have figured ways to monetize their holdings and can easily afford a surtax.
A revolution by the blue-bloods of Seattle seems a little ... far fetched.

23

Sounds like Disaster Capitalism like Chucky was talking about. Pots calling kettles black.

24

There are so many places that could be cut if the city acted incisively and returned to the basics of running a city. The number of people who keep score of "social justice" for the race and social justice obsession that the city explicitly is focused on would be a great start. Focus on hiring the most qualified (though this would be a time to lay off the least productive and qualified), should bring in qualfied people of all backgrounds hired not on patronage basis, but qualifications only. Millions of waste is in this current exercise, a culture of entitlement and looking the other way at those who can't or won't be fully productive because they clicked a box. LIkewise close the multimillion dollar office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. Our city welcomes all and those from various groups do not need a city office to serve them after their arrival here. Refugees count their blessings every day and would not miss this self-serving endeavor. Take a look at every department and insist upon cuts of a certain percentage, if not a full closure. Those making more than 100K should have pay cuts imposed. I know someone making about 80K whose company added one Friday off every other week plus a 17% pay cut. This nets out to about 5% cut considering the added time off. The cuts could be scaled from say 10% at 100K to 20% at 200K. The auditors could sweat the details.

The mayor could, under cover of actual necessity, unroll some of the many excesses of the past and get us to per capita spends like other cities that spend far less. Act as if your business depended upon cutting costs for its very survival, like businesses have to do all the time, in normal and extraordinary times alike.

Redirect some serious homeless spend to ending encampments. Yesterday's sweep saw 3 of 9 accepting shelter. Show the other 6 a ticket out of town and likewise every other tent that has appeared on our streets largely in the past 5-10 years should be firmly and repeatedly dismantled. By reducing the attractiveness of Seattle to miscreants from around the country, we could trim untold millions in direct costs, not to mention reducing criminal justice and public health costs associated with this group, and likely cut Medic 1 trips by half and much less police and fire overtime or perhaps even some staffing.

Expecting the city to behave responsibly rather than crying for more money may be wishful thinking. But on a certain level, we who have to get people to pay us voluntarily or we have no work, are secretly hoping for the inevitable takedown that Covid is forcing on Seattle government.

25

@15- did you just mis-gender me?

32

Yesterday the mayor responded to david kroman from crosscut, that the Scc needs to be forthcoming that any payroll tax they might pass cannot be used to plug budget shortfalls in 2020 or 2021. She does not see a payroll tax as an immediate solution to the current covid crisis. Translation: she will veto an amazon tax bill if brought under the mayors emergency declaration.

34

It's a mighty smelly scene when The Stranger's comments section is indistinguishable from those in the Blethen Beacon.