AUSTIN (KXAN) - A proposal to grant computer giant Apple Inc. an incentive package worth $6 million is the topic of a public hearing Tuesday morning before the Travis County Commissioners Court.
No vote will be taken for at least a week.
The commissioners received input from citizens who didn't approve of Travis County trying to lure Apple to expand in Austin by offering the billion-dollar company money in the form of tax rebates.
"I think we need to not act like swooning consumers or Apple groupies," said Ed Wendler Jr, an Austin resident who stood before the council to voice his concerns.
The incentive package is in the form of real estate abatements. Last week, the city of Austin approved $8.6 million in tax abatements. Earlier in the month, the state of Texas approved $21 million from its Texas Enterprise Fund.
The Travis County commissioners' office is considering giving Apple $7.4 million in property tax rebates over the next 15 years, but commissioners say they want something in return.
Apple has not made a final decision about expanding its campus in Austin. Currently, 3,100 workers make up its local workforce, and the proposal calls for another 3,600 throughout the next decade.
But the county wants to lay down guidelines, like making sure a large portion of the 3,600 new jobs go to people that already live here.
They want Apple to hire economically disadvantaged workers, as well as help fund a Lone Star Rail stop near the Apple campus in Northwest Austin.
Capital Metro is looking to add an extra public transit perk to the area around Apple's current campus in Northwest Austin. Now, Lone Star Rail is trying to hop on board.
"They've committed just verbally to us that they are more than happy to work with us and come up with a partnership that benefits everybody," said Sid Covington, a Lone Star Rail chairman.
The Lone Star Rail has been in the works for over 10 years, and would connect Georgetown to San Antonio.
Developers hope to put a stop near the Apple headquarters either at Mcneil Road where a Capitol Metro line and Union Pacific Rail cross, or on West Parmer Lane. The new plan would require that Apple help pay for the station.
"It would be a huge boost to Lone Star Rail to have a company of Apple's stature sign on early, at least in principal, to say yes we will make commuter rail a reality, " said Travis County Commissioner, Sarah Eckhardt.
It would take the Lone Star Rail at least six years to start up, but advocates say the financial help from apple is a step in the right direction to relieve some of the congestion on Austin's roads.
"We are in the process of developing these kinds of financing options and how we are going to pay for it," said Covington. "So having this come in early in that portion of the project is important."
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