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Local businesses react to Seattle’s new head tax

SEATTLE -- One homegrown company says the approved Seattle head tax could mean it stops expanding within the city where it  first started business.

For weeks, we’ve heard how the Seattle head tax would impact large businesses like Amazon or Starbucks.

Now, we’re hearing what the newly approved tax could mean for the smaller businesses who meet the city’s head tax threshold.

"At Dick’s Drive-In, we’re proud to be the (company) where Seattleites get their first job,” said Saul Spady, a family member of the company owner. “I think there is just a really important legacy in this restaurant and it’s giving back to your community."

Spady is the grandson of Dick Spady. In 1954, Dick Spady opened his first burger, shake, and fry shop called Dick’s Drive-In in Seattle’s University District. More than 60 years later, the business has become a staple within the city.

Dick’s Drive-In would be affected by the head tax.

Spady said he and his family’s company is all for improving Seattle and working to deal with the homeless crisis, but he doesn’t think the head tax is the right way to go.

“Where our problem with the head tax is: one, it makes businesses think about employing less people, but, two, it’s just hard to trust the city to spend money well,” said Spady. “This is the same group of people that just two weeks ago told us our million-dollar bike paths would cost $12 million, and we didn’t even blink an eye as a city."

In total, the head tax will impact about 585 Seattle companies. The approved head tax calls for a $275 tax per employee annually on companies grossing more than $20 million.

The city will not release the names of these companies. Seattle city officials say tax payer information is protected from disclosure.

Spady said many smaller business owners in the community, who will be affected by the head tax are afraid to speak up out of fear of retaliation.

He said if city leaders continue to make these types of decisions, it could be the end of a legacy for his family’s company in its hometown.

“Until they start making a new business-friendly environment, I don’t think we’ll see another Dick’s Drive-In built" in Seattle, said Spady.