Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Austin

Apple incentives, F1 planning on Travis Co. Commissioners’ plate

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Travis County Commissioners discussed two hot topics at Tuesday's meeting.

One of those issues included county incentives for Apple to make a major expansion in Central Texas.

The state has offered to award Apple $21 million in incentives, and the City of Austin already agreed to kick in another $8.6 million.

Travis County has considered rebating 80 percent of property taxes Apple would pay for its expansion, but at least one court commissioner insists the agreement make specific guarantees.

"If a governmental entity provides a rebate as an incentive, but it doesn't actually incentivize anything beyond Apple just being Apple, that would be a gift rather than a contract," Commissioner Sara Eckhardt said. "You want to do it because you're incentivizing some behavior that they would not otherwise engage in."

The court wants to see specific language about the number of local employees and disadvantaged workers Apple would hire before taking any action.

County commissioners also took no action on another issue drawing international interest--the Circuit of the Americas Formula One track.

A number of planning and permitting issues are still unresolved about the race track. The county wants assurances about road improvements planned to accommodate thousands of race fans this fall.

"I've been telling voters and taxpayers that the county's financial contribution would be next to zero, but we did plan to improve some of the transportation projects that have been on our work plan for years, but we would accelerate them,” Judge Sam Biscoe said. “And so I hope to hold true to that."

Both issues are expected to be on the agenda when county commissioners meet again next Tuesday.

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