TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas — A proposed agreement between Tesla and the Del Valle Independent School District could potentially save the company up to $68 million on property taxes over the next 10 years if it brings an assembly plant to Travis County, according to KVUE's media partners at the Austin American-Statesman.
This would also mean thousands of new jobs for Austin-area residents.
The agreement, which was made public by the Texas Comptroller's office on Thursday, would require Tesla to build a 4 to 5 million-square-foot facility that would be able to employ 5,000 or more employees.
Texas Tax Code allows school districts to give a property tax break for an economic development project, which the state then is required to repay the school district for the amount it gives up.
Del Valle ISD Superintendent Dr. Annette Tielle issued the following statement regarding the deal:
"On behalf of our students and teachers, we are excited by the prospect of a company of this magnitude coming to our district. This type of partnership could provide our students authentic, rigorous and practical internship, apprenticeship and work-study programs in the areas of robotics, engineering, manufacturing and STEM. Our focus has always been ensuring that our children have robust and successful futures. The addition of a company who has the ability to support our community both economically and academically would be advantageous for our students and accelerate our efforts to mentor and develop the workforce of the next generation."
Additionally, Travis County is negotiating other incentives to bring the plant to the area, according to a separate Statesman report.
The Travis County Commissioners Court was expected to discuss the terms of the deal in an executive session on Tuesday. The Statesman reported a vote will follow in the coming weeks.
Travis County public information officer Hector Nieto said the court is in deliberations with Tesla for an Economic Development Performance Agreement that would bring a "gigafactory" to the eastern crescent of Travis County.
"For that item, the Travis County Commissioners Court will receive presentations from Travis County staff and Tesla representatives," said Nieto. "The court encourages the public to provide input on Tuesday when it takes up the item. It is the court’s intention to not take any action on the item. Should any member of the public not be able to provide comments during Commissioners Court, they are encouraged to submit written comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org."
In mid-May, the Associated Press reported that Tesla chose Austin as a finalist for the company's new assembly plant. At the time, Tesla said it wants its new plants to be in the center of the country and plans for it to be bigger than its California factory, which reportedly employs about 10,000 people.
That same week, Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed that talks were already in place with Tesla CEO Elon Musk to move the company's headquarters out of California and into Texas.
The United Auto Workers union penned a letter to the commissioners court Monday morning, asking them to slow down and review the ramifications that could come from public subsidies for the new plant.
"You have to look strongly at the track record of a company and their commitment not just to public dollars, but to the community investment and actual return on jobs created," said Cindy Estrada, UAW vice president. "Tesla has a track record of collecting public subsidies from several states but not delivering on their promises. That is why it is important this time for Tesla to commit to community assurances for Travis County before getting subsidies. Things like paid sick leave are important not just to workers but the community as COVID-19 has shown."
"It's a buyer beware situation," added Mitchell Smith, UAW Region 8 director. "If you look at the track record, you have to wonder if this taxpayer money will result in the promised jobs. It is important to slow down at a time when governments are struggling with the budget effects of COVID-19 and make sure we have strong assurances to the community that these jobs will be good-paying quality jobs, that there will be safety in the plant, and that there is a guaranteed community benefit."
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