King County Executive Dow Constantine delivers the 2017 State of the County address in Auburn

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a tax on big businesses to help alleviate the city's growing homelessness problem and lack of affordable housing.

A proposal to tax companies $500 per employee was being considered for several weeks but, after Mayor Jenny Durkan threatened to veto it, the council voted to reduce the size of the tax.

Seattle declared a civil state of emergency over homelessness in late 2015.

González said she was pleased to have the support of nearly every councilmember - Sawant did not support the amendment, but ended up voting in favor of the tax - but disappointed she couldn't find support for more.

The battle between Amazon and head tax supporters may also be watched closely by cities in North America that have been courting the company for its second headquarters. Free for 14 days - no credit card required!

Head taxes are extremely rare in the USA and the ones in place are a fraction of Seattle's proposal.


She had offered an amendment to essentially cut the original $75 million tax proposal in half, but her proposal was rejected last Friday.

Criticism from Starbucks comes on the heels of a statement Amazon issued saying it is "very apprehensive" about its future in Seattle because of the city's "hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses".

WATCH: Is head tax the right solution?

"Big businesses like Amazon have many tactics to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, and it has required true dedication and sacrifice from hundreds of us to bring us to this point".

"I've been really struggling with how I feel about this compromise because I've been really, really focused on the spending plan and the dire needs of our communities", co-sponsor of the original legislation Lisa Herbold said before the vote. "If they can not provide a warm meal and safe bed to a five-year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction".

He noted that city revenues have grown dramatically and that the city "does not have a revenue problem - it has a spending efficiency problem".


The compromise failed to defuse tensions between Amazon and the city it has called home for the last 24 years.

"P$3 ending the outcome of the head-tax vote by City Council, Amazon has paused all construction planning", a company spokesperson told The Seattle Times earlier this month.

Speak Out Seattle cofounder Elizabeth James said her group wants an independent audit of all city departments, and for the city to better support law enforcement and funding for drug treatment and mental health services.

Starbucks spokespersron John Kelly, Starbucks' senior vice president of global public affairs and social impact, said the city hasn't been accountable enough to prove it can use the money wisely.

"They're driving this economic engine", he said.

It also includes $2.3 million in revenue to go towards a five-year goal of picking up 950,000 pounds of garbage. Today, it has workers in more than 40 buildings and occupies one-fifth of Seattle's first-class office space, totaling more than 10 million square feet.


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