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City Council Hears Presentations on Hazard Pay, B&O Tax Before Monday Vote

The May 10th Auburn City Council Study Session heard presentations on various ordinances, including pandemic hazard pay for grocery store workers, an updated fee schedule for the Auburn Valley Humane Society, adding to the code of the municipal airport, and creating a business & occupation tax for Auburn businesses.

Hazard Pay for Grocery Workers

First heard was Ordinance 6818 (info), which would create a hazard pay of $4 per hour for grocery store workers in large supermarkets had a presentation by the grocery store union and area groceries.

UFCW 21, which represents over 44,000 grocery, retail, and other workers, presented their views on the hazard pay ordinance (presentation).

“Over the last year, we’ve seen a lot of changes in scientific consensus and federal directives,” said Karsten Wise, UFCW 21 representative. “During that time, hundreds of food workers in Auburn, have struggled to provide basic food and other necessities to the consumers in the Auburn community.”

Representatives from the NW Grocery Industry (presentation), and Washington Food Industry Association (presentation) spoke on behalf of the grocers.

NWGI representative for the grocers, Holly Chisa estimated that the average rate of pay for grocery workers currently was $19 an hour plus $4 an hour in benefits.

Whereas WFIA representative Catherine Holm spoke to the slim profit margins independent grocers have and the severe impact the proposed hazard pay would have on these owners.

A B&O Tax for Auburn

Also heard was Ordinance 6814 (info), which would create a business & occupation tax for Auburn businesses had a presentation to the council.

Auburn Finance Director Jamie Thomas showcased the various B&O rate options available, including square footage for warehouses.

“There is a two-tiered system,” Thomas told the council. “If their gross receipts tax is more than the square footage tax, they would pay the square footage tax.”

Public Works Updates

The council heard updates two updates from the Public Works Department during the study session. The first relating to the Auburn Municipal Airport (Ordinance 6820 – info), relating to the updating code provisions.

Since the 2019 transfer from a contract-management structure of the Municipal airport to a city-management structure of employees, there has been a larger examination of what codes work and what do not, said Public Works Director Ingrid Gaub.

“We’ve been doing an update to fit with that new management structure,” said Gaub.

The second presentation was 2022-2027 Transportation Improvement Program Annual Update and 2022 Transportation Impact Fee Update (info)

The study session ended with a progress update from the South King Housing and Homelessness Partners (SKHHP). The progress update reviewed the work done on the 2020-2021 work plan and projected work plan for 2022.

All ordinances and resolutions reviewed during the May 10 study session are on the May 17 city council meeting agenda to go before the council for a vote.

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