AUSTIN — Apple is getting a big tax rebate connected to its plan for a $1 billion expansion in Central Texas.
Tuesday, Williamson County Commissioners voted on a taxpayer-funded incentive package for Apple that will be worth tens of millions of dollars over its 15-year life.
The vote comes after leaders in Williamson County spent much of the year trying to acquire a major corporate campus that would bring thousands of jobs to the area.
The proposed deal will rebate 65 percent of Apple's annual property taxes for 15 years. Right now, the land is agriculture exempt, which means the county gets less than $100 in tax revenue a year. With Apple moving in -- even with these tax breaks -- the county will see $80,000 dollars that first year and more than $7 million in 15 years.
After 15 years, Apple will pay the full tax bill.
Commissioner Valerie Covey said people have asked her why the county would give Apple a tax rebate.
“If it’s a good thing for the county, we want that. What wouldn’t be good is if it went right across the county line, the other county, across the line, to Travis yet we had all the people and everything else, but no tax revenue to help us,” Covey said. “That’s money we don’t have right now, that we would need for the improvements, and the other things that come about and the people that would be coming.”
The agreement requires Apple to invest $400 million in the site over that time period, as well as hire 4,000 workers by the deal's twelfth anniversary.
Williamson County has already had growth without Apple, and many believe it will only be amplified with the tech giant growing in the area.
Apple announced last week that it plans to invest $1 billion in a new Austin campus and add 5,000 workers to its Central Texas payroll. Site preparation is scheduled to start next year for the 133-acre corporate campus, which is about one mile from its main location at Parmer Lane. The facility could eventually accommodate up to 15,000 workers. It will be in Austin city limits, and the city is not putting any money into it. Apple is set to receive as much as $25 million for the campus from the state's taxpayer-funded Texas Enterprise Fund.
The commissioners told KVUE they will also focus on transportation in the area, specifically Parmer.
According to Commissioner Cynthia Long, they designated Parmer as a spot that needed major improvements years ago. Now, they hope the Apple expansion will move that timeline up.
“It really needs to be a controlled access facility, where we go over the intersections and we have limited access, so people can really get through there, as well as not just people, but transit as well,” Long said.
She said she got commitments from a number of agencies -- like City of Austin, the Governor’s Office, Cap Metro, CTRMA and TXDOT – to do something.
“There’s not ever just one entity that funds things. We’re going to look to the private sector, we’re going to look to the state, the county, the cities and kind-of all the above,” Long said.
They also expect that they’ll get more public transportation, including more rail access and trails for people who want to ride a bike or scooter to and from work.
“I really think it’s going to change the face of transportation in Round Rock, in Cedar Park, in Leander, and not just be the change is congestion. I think it’s going to be a whole new way of getting around,” Commissioner Terry Cook said.