Seattle City Council votes on controversial employee tax

UPDATE: After weeks of tense and raucous meetings, a divided Seattle City Council unanimously approved (9-0) a controversial tax on the city’s largest businesses in an effort to fight homelessness. Read more:

SEATTLE -- Today, the Seattle City Council is set to vote on a controversial tax on the city's largest businesses to raise money to fight homelessness.

After weeks of tense and raucous meetings, Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez said Monday she was in "pretty regular contact" with Mayor Jenny Durkan over weekend to build a consensus over the tax.

Gonzalez said they will propose a new amendment making the tax rate $275/year (down from $500+) with a sunset clause for 2023.

The council will hear public comment, vote on the new amendment, then vote on the tax.

Councilmembers who advanced a proposal out of committee on a 5-4 vote Friday had said they wanted businesses with more than $20 million in gross revenues, such as Amazon and Starbucks, to pay as much as $500 a year per full-time worker.

The original "head tax," or tax on employee hours, would have raised about $75 million a year to build affordable housing units and pay for homeless services. The amendment proposed Monday would raise about $50 million a year.

The bill will need five votes to pass any measure and six votes to override a mayoral veto.