Travis County mulls tax breaks for Apple expansion project

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by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and photojournalist JOHN GIBSON

kvue.com

Posted on April 3, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 3 at 6:21 PM

TRAVIS COUNTY -- Travis County Commissioners are still not sure if they should give a tech giant a tax break. Tuesday morning a crowd waited to take part in a public hearing that could help decide whether Apple moves ahead with a planned expansion.

The new campus near Parmer Lane in Northwest Austin would provide an additional 3,600 jobs and millions of dollars to Central Texas.
 
“In discussions about tax incentives, I think we need to not act like swooning consumers or Apple groupies,” said Ed Wendler Jr.
 
“I hope that we will not hold Apple's success as one of the leading companies in the world against it as we consider this incentive package,” said Clark Heidrick, with the Greater Austin’s Chamber of Commerce.
 
“So we've already given them a 10 percent discount. Alright, a $100 billion cash rich company gets a 10 percent discount from Texas and Austin,” said Laura Pressley. “Now I'm a little questioning of that.”
 
Last week the Austin City Council approved an $8.6 million tax incentive for Apple's expansion project.
The state has already agreed to a $21 million incentive package.
 
Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt says for her, the deal hinges on whether Apple will agree to train and hire low income Travis County residents and pay for a stop on the proposed Lone Star Rail Line.
 
“The discussion around employing the economically disadvantaged and the discussion around working with Lone Star Rail has been very positive with Apple,” Eckhardt said.
 
The land where Apple plans to expand is less than a mile away from the Williamson County line. That has some asking "Why isn't that county putting money into the tax incentive pot?"
 
“If Apple expands their workforce in Northern Travis County, there's going to be employees out of Williamson County who're not going to have to contribute anything,” said former Travis County Judge Bill Aleshire. “Where will it end? Every company will be asking for tax kickbacks.”
 
County commissioners pushed back the vote on the tax abatement proposal to next week.

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