The Wenatchee City Council will not impose a business tax on Confluence Health, but left the door open for further deliberation next year.
Last night in a packed council chamber, the council held a public hearing on the proposed two-tenths-of-one-percent (.2%) Business and Occupation tax.
About a dozen speakers got up to voice opposition, including upper management of Confluence Health and representatives from the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce. Then the council deliberated at length on whether such a tax was warranted.
Mayor Frank Kuntz said it’s a way to ensure the city’s long-term financial outlook and pay for additional police officers, citing a rise in gang activity and homelessness in the Valley. Kuntz pointed to cities in Western Washington that have imposed business taxes on hospitals.
Those opposed to the proposal called it an unfair tax and pointed to Confluence Health’s charitable donations and programs that help sexual assault victims and those experiencing homelessness, programs officials said would take a hit to pay for the B&O tax.
Confluence Health’s CEO Peter Rutherford called the B&O tax a disruptive matter for the city.
None of the council members expressed support for the idea of a B&O tax. And more than half said funding for police officers should come from other budget priorities.
Without a consensus among the council members, no motion was put forth. It is possible the Wenatchee city council could take up the issue again in 2020. Two new members will be sworn in Dec. 30.
If you’d like to view the whole public hearing, the city posted this video to its YouTube page. Forward to 49:30.