Williamson County to vote on 15-year incentive deal for Apple campus

Williamson County

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Williamson County commissioners are set to vote Tuesday on an incentive deal that would pay back 65 percent of property taxes to Apple over 15 years so that the tech giant could expand its operations in north Austin. 

Apple announced Thursday that it would spend $1 billion to build a second campus in Austin and create 5,000 new jobs. The proposed site for the 133-acre building is located on the Williamson County side of the city on an undeveloped property near Parmer Lane and McNeil Road. 

According to the proposed contract shared by Williamson County Friday, the incentive deal would begin when Apple hires 700 people and would last for the next 15 years. 

Under the Chapter 381 economic development agreement, the county would agree to pay Apple a grant from its general fund each year worth 65 percent of its ad valorem taxes on real and business personal property. Apple, however, would have to spend $400 million on buying land and building its new facility. 

The agreement also stipulates that Apple would have to create a total of 4,000 new full-time jobs during a specific timeline. The company would have to add 600 jobs every two years from the second through the 10th anniversaries of the agreement as well as hire 300 new people by the 12th anniversary of the agreement. 

If Apple creates less than 70 percent of the jobs required during those specific time periods, then the agreement states the grant the company receives from the county will be reduced proportionately to the jobs actually created. 

While he won’t be voting on this agreement next week, incoming County Judge Bill Gravell expects the county to see a big return on the investment. He points out the property, as it is right now, only brings in 78 dollars in property taxes each year. 

“Hypothetically, what that figure looks like is about $7.2 million over the next few years,” Gravell said. 

“If you did the formula,” he added, “if you took $78 a year times 15 years, and then you look at $7.2 million a year over the next 15 years, you’ll see that Williamson County is winning.” 

The proposed agreement further states that Williamson County can end it if Apple does not hire the required number of full-time employees, does not build the new campus on the area specified or fails to pay its property taxes.

The commissioners court will take up this economic development agreement at the meeting scheduled for Dec. 18. Connie Odom, the public affairs manager for Williamson County, told KXAN that a news conference will be held afterward to comment on the deal. No county officials are willing to comment on the proposal ahead of the vote. 

The City of Austin confirmed that it will not offer an incentive package this time to Apple to build this second campus. However, the city did reach an agreement with the company when it constructed its first facility in north Austin.

First campus agreement

Travis County approved a similar tax deal with Apple for its first campus. For 10 years, it agreed to give Apple a 60 percent rebate on its property taxes. For 5 years after that, it gets a 40 percent rebate. 

Austin’s agreement with Apple was estimated to be worth $8.6 million at the time. Apple committed to investing more than $300 million in buildings, machines and equipment over 10 years. It also agreed to maintain it’s original 3,100 jobs and create more than 3,600 new full-time jobs. 

In exchange, the city will give Apple back all the property taxes it pays on those buildings, machines and equipment. 

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