SEATTLE - The group No Tax on Jobs is celebrating after the organization says it gathered enough signatures to put the Seattle's head tax on the November ballot, leaving the fate of it in voters' hands.
The group needed to gather 17,000 signatures by June 14. They say they’ve far surpassed that number already.
The city’s employee tax, which was unanimously passed by the city council last month, would charge big businesses in Seattle $275 annually and raise $47.5 million dollars over five years to combat the homeless crisis.
The group, No Tax on Jobs says that’s not the right approach to address homelessness.
“Everybody’s mad, everyone has had it,” said Marianne McCreary, who has lived in Seattle for the past 3 decades.
“I’ve lived here for 35 years,” she said. McCreary says she’s always been proud to live here, but she’s not thrilled about what Seattle looks like today. “I see tents, I see needles, I see garbage, it’s awful. I’m ashamed of our city.”
The latest numbers show 12,112 people are experiencing homelessness in King County.
But McCreary doesn’t agree with the city council’s approach to solving that problem by burdening businesses with a tax that she says would stifle Seattle’s growth.
“It would kill our city," she said.
So, McCreary signed the petition by the No Tax on Jobs group to repeal the head tax.
“We were sitting around asking ourselves is this the future we want for Seattle,” said James Maiocco, chair of the No Tax on Jobs. He led the effort hoping to gather 17,000 signatures by June 14 needed to put the head tax on the November ballot.
“There’s been a lot of things the city has done that we haven’t agreed with but this time the city went too far,” said Maiocco
Within the past two weeks, he says they’ve gotten well over 20,000 signatures.
“It should be a very big wake up call to the city,” said Pete Lamb with Teamsters 174.
City officials say the head tax dollars would help clean up the streets.
“That allows us to get money in the door immediately to build the housing that we need,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda.
But council members also know people are frustrated.
“Now we have to prove to the public that we’re investing wisely and strategically and openly, I don’t think we convinced the public on that,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell.
McCreary says she doesn’t need convincing, she just wants her signature today to turn into a vote in November and have a say in how to solve the issues that impact her daily life.
The No Tax on Jobs group says they’ll file the petition formally with the city clerk’s office this week. Then the city will validate those signatures before it goes on the November ballot.