Dick's Drive-In says giving directly to charity is more effective than proposed head tax

Dick's Drive-In Restaurants says giving money directly to the city won't solve the homelessness problem, but giving it directly to the charities with a proven track record will.

SEATTLE -- Seattle's controversial employee head tax proposal is expected to get its first vote in a council committee this week.

Supporters say it'll raise $75 million a year to help the homeless. But some big businesses say they don't want to pay the city.

Dick's Drive-In Restaurants says giving money directly to the city won't solve the homelessness problem, but giving it directly to the charities with a proven track record will.

Their location in Queen Anne is a busy place. Because of all the homeless nearby, it also has private security.

The local restaurant chain and other local businesses say they're doing their part to help the homeless.

"We started the "No Child Sleeps Outside" campaign," said Jasmine Donovan, executive vice president of Dick's Drive-In Restaurants.

Donovan signed an op-ed published in The Seattle Times last week. So did the CEO of Rachel's Ginger Beer and the chairman and founder of the Seattle Hospitality Group.

They think the jobs tax is a bad idea.

"We've been spending more and more money every year on homelessness. The city isn't showing that it's very good at combating that homelessness with the spending they're doing," said Donovan.

According to councilmember Lorena Gonzalez, Seattle is seeing success.

"A result of those $53 million investments is over 5,000 people who we have been able to exit permanently out of homelessness," Gonzalez said, citing a new report. Neither KOMO News or SODO Business Improvement Area has been able to obtain a copy of that report from the city.

Some City Council members defend the tax, saying it'll pay for affordable housing and services for the homeless.

But Donovan and the other op-ed authors say there's no clear plan on how the money will be spent. They propose a compromise.

"The compromise we'd like to see for this additional tax, this additional funding to fight the homelessness crisis in our city...rather than the businesses having to send money to City Hall, we send the money directly to charities that have had measurable success in combating homelessness in our city," Donovan said.

If the city moves forward and passes the job tax, Donovan says businesses should have the option of paying the money directly to the city.
Donovan says, otherwise, businesses could deduct up to that same amount in cash or in-kind donation to charities directly.

"We don’t think that (jobs tax) is a good proposal. But, if they are going to do that, then at least let us, who are active in our community and who want to… like we are, like Amazon is, like Starbucks is, like Microsoft is, like Vulcan is-- we want to be able to directly give that money to the charities we see as being successful and innovative in the city," said Donovan.

Dick's says it has worked closely with Mary's Place and many other charities helping the homeless.

"The Seattle business community has shown repeatedly that we want to be part of the solution here," Donovan said. "We are not the villain."

Sunday afternoon, KOMO News talked to DESC--Downtown Emergency Service Center . The non-profit, which provides services for the homeless, counts on funding from the City of Seattle. Executive Director Daniel Malone said the proposed job tax is "a reasonable way to tackle the homelessness problem." But he also said, "DESC is wide-open to better ideas."

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