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Kirkland Chamber of Commerce opposes new business tax

The Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce urges businesses, their employees and citizens who support their local neighborhood businesses to please help oppose a new head tax on Kirkland businesses during these challenging economic times.

It’s time to e-mail, write, call, and show up at the city council meeting on Dec. 16 to voice your opinion against establishment of head tax on Kirkland businesses.

A head tax of $100 per full-time employee continues to be the recommendation of the Kirkland City Council finance committee and city staff. The Kirkland Chamber remains opposed and we are asking businesses to attend the Dec. 16 meeting in support of the Chamber’s position that this is not the time to implement this tax and that reserves should be used instead.

The initiation of this new tax during a recession when sales are down and employers are already forced to downsize and lay employees off will only increase the number of businesses that leave Kirkland or close entirely. This tax is in addition to an increase in property and utility taxes that businesses will pay beginning in January 2009. Since residents of Kirkland will not vote on increases until next November, a delay for implementing the new business tax as well would show support by the city for its struggling businesses.

The $100 per full-time employee tax is unfair since it disproportionally affects businesses that already generate sales tax and have many employees, such as restaurants and car dealerships. It has been sold to the City Council members as similar to Redmond's $90 per employee head tax, when in fact, Redmond's tax is $35 per employee with the balance being used for transportation infrastructure improvements. Time needs to be taken to come up with a more equitable method to address the city deficit without adding further taxes to the business community.

The Chamber recommends that reserves be used to bridge the budget gap rather than rely on additional tax increases on businesses who will be struggling to keep their doors open for the next two years.

We urge businesses to attend the Dec. 16 meeting and, most importantly, contact the city council to voice your concerns by mail, by calling, or by email.

Bill Vadino, executive director, Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce

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