• Jacque Coe

Council approves relief funds, tax spending and expands eligibility for small business relief.

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

By unanimous vote, the Seattle City Council has approved two major spending measures--one for coronavirus relief for residents and small businesses, the other to spend monies from the newly passed ‘JumpStart Seattle’ jobs tax. In doing so, they also passed an amendment by councilmember Dan Strauss to expand eligibility for small businesses to qualify for coronavirus assistance dollars.

The council voted to move $86 million now for coronavirus relief from two emergency funds and replenish the funds with revenues from the newly passed jobs tax. The two funds, the city Emergency Fund and the Rainy Day Fund, hold a combined $128 million, and the Mayor has proposed using $29 million from the two funds to balance the city deficit, which will leave the emergency fund with a zero balance. $14.5 million of the funds will be spent on small business assistance. The remainder of the funds will be allocated for rent assistance and homeless shelters, grocery vouchers for immigrants, refugees, and others, childcare assistance, affordable housing and mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention.

The council also voted to spend the estimated $214 million in revenues generated by the jobs tax passed earlier this month. The tiered tax will apply a tax rate ranging from 0.7% to 2.4% on companies with annual payrolls of $7 million or more on employee salaries of $150,000 and higher. The council approved a plan to spend the revenues on replenishing city emergency funds, preserving city services with funding for low-income, immigrant and homeless residents and coronavirus relief programs, among others.

An amendment proposed by councilmember Dan Strauss was passed to expand eligibility for small businesses such as restaurants to receive grants from the small business stabilization fund. The Strauss amendment increases the eligibility from companies with 10 full time employees (FTEs) to 25 employees. Strauss specifically mentioned restaurants as a stakeholder group to be helped by the expansion of eligibility. To read the full text of the amendment, click here.

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