To help pay for the hiring of additional police officers, the Seattle City Council on Monday raised taxes and fees on businesses.
The Seattle City Council on Monday approved Mayor Ed Murray’s proposals to hike taxes and fees on businesses to help pay for the hiring of additional police officers.
The council voted unanimously to raise the city’s business and occupation tax rates by 3.2 percent over two years. Those rates have not grown since 1991.
The move will generate about $8.4 million per year and cost a business with $1 million in annual revenues an additional $70 per year.
The council also voted unanimously to increase the city’s business-license fees, tweaking the mayor’s proposal by charging small businesses less and large businesses more than he would have.
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In April, Murray called for replacing the existing, two-tier structure with a new, five-tier structure.
Under the existing structure, businesses making less than $20,000 per year pay $55 per year and business making more than $20,000 pay $110 per year.
Under the mayor’s structure, businesses in the uppermost of five tiers — those making more than $2 million per year — would have paid $580 per year. Businesses in the lowermost tier would have paid $80 per year.
Under the council’s structure, businesses in the uppermost of five tiers — those making more than $5 million — will pay $2,400 by 2019, with later increases based on inflation. Those in the lowermost two tiers will continue to pay $55 and $110 per year until 2020, when inflation-based increases will kick in.
There are more than 60,000 businesses in those lowermost two tiers and less than 2,200 businesses in the uppermost tier.
The council’s plan will, over time, collect slightly more money than Murray’s plan — an additional $5.5 million in 2017, rather than $5.3 million.
Monday’s actions together will generate more than half of the $23 million the mayor has said is needed to grow the police force, improve the city’s 911 call center and complete other police-technology upgrades. Murray has said he and the council will need to cover the rest of that cost with money from the city’s general fund.
The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the city’s largest business group, hailed the funding plan Monday.
When he took office in 2014, Murray promised to grow the police force by 100 officers in his first term. Then, during his most recent State of the City speech, in February, he promised an additional 100 officers by 2020, assuming he wins a second term.