Assistant Finance Director, Business Systems
Project Director for the Summit Re-Implementation Project
43 cities in Washington state levied their own business and occupation taxes on top of the state’s B&O (gross receipts tax). Frustrated business owners said they wasted resources filing in each jurisdiction, so state lawmakers proposed a legislative fix to roll up local B&O taxes into the state system. The proposed change would have cost cities 10s of millions in annual tax revenues, especially the four cities—Bellevue, Everett, Seattle and Tacoma—that accounted for nearly 80% of the total value of local B&O taxes.
Working with the Association of Washington Cities, the cities negotiated a different system to maintain the taxes, yet ease filings: an integrated local tax e-filing portal, FileLocal. Managed by a nonprofit/government agency, FileLocal streamlined the filing process, increased compliance and reduced admin costs. The four cities started the project in 2013, forming a governance committee, which included the cities’ CFOs and tax managers. Louisiana’s eGov Systems built the site. The top concerns were security, efficiency and integrating the online and local collections. Businesses were uncertain, and Jamie and her team knew that, “until it was built, everyone was going to be skeptical.” FileLocal instituted a rolling launch to ensure a smooth adoption. Seattle launched first, followed by Tacoma, Bellevue and Everett. Challenges were larger for Bellevue and Tacoma, which didn’t have online filing systems before FileLocal’s arrival. Overall FileLocal has seen its adoption rates grow by 20%, quarter on quarter, and with annual filings the growth rate increased to 56%.
Keep fighting no matter how hard it gets because the vision is worth the fight. Invite all parties to participate, because mid-sized and smaller cities have invaluable customer experiences to share. They bring much in terms of cost efficiencies and prioritization of features.
Reporting to city finance director, she’s responsible for insuring that the city has a regularized way of processing its finances that meets high standards.
Jamie’s Personal Background
Jamie’s parents were missionaries. In 1984 they packed up their four kids and moved to Papua New Guinea for six years. She returned to the US to attend Seattle Pacific University (class of ’95). Jamie joined the City of Seattle after graduation, working her way up through the ranks until she found her sweet spot in 1999: managerial positions where she matched business processes to technology systems. She’s been assistant finance director since 2015.
Jamie learned how to use a machete and carry buckets of water on her head through the jungle while living in New Guinea—skills she hasn’t found much use for yet in Seattle.