Del Valle Independent School District’s board members agreed to a property tax abatement with Tesla, Inc., Thursday night.
The electric car maker is looking to build a $1 billion factory in Eastern Travis County. If the company meets all of the criteria while bringing its new factory online, it could save as much as $50 million in property taxes over 10 years.
The school district will still come out way ahead, netting an estimated $28 million in taxes in the same period. The current owner of the concrete plant that sits on the location Tesla is eyeing for the factory pays about $58,000 in property taxes to the district a year.
After weeks of meetings and nearly an hour in executive session on Thursday, school board members decided that even with the big tax break, the rewards for the school district and this part of the county were too great to pass up.
School Board President Rebecca Birch thanked the more than 400 people who submitted public comments online this week.
“As a board member and somebody that has lived in Del Valle for almost 20 years, we’ve been trying to get attention,” Birch said. “People are paying attention now. I’m hoping that they continue to pay attention and they see that Del Valle has always been a diamond in the rough.”
The vote was not unanimous. Board Member Susanna Woody was concerned that not all of the district’s tax options were made available for consideration.
“For the board to make a decision that’s going to impact the next 10 years, without even thinking about negotiating and not even wanting to put that on the table, is irresponsible,” Woody said. “I’m not going to put that on the district.”
Despite the move by Del Valle ISD, Tesla is still holding its cards close. It has targeted an area off of State Highway 130 and Harold Green Road as the site where it could build the electric truck factory, but Tesla has not said it has acquired the land yet.
Tesla could still opt to build its factory elsewhere. It has said in discussions with the school board and Travis County Commissioners that incentives will be a big driver in its choice. The company is reportedly considering a Williamson County site and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Rohan Patel, Tesla’s director of policy and business development, talked to school board members Thursday about the Del Valle location.
“Despite all of the costs associated with this particular site, despite the environmental issues that exist on the site, it has risen to the top because of you all and because of the clear passion that you have for your community,” Patel said.
There is one more property tax hurdle for the company to clear in the county. Travis County commissioners could commit to a tax rebate program with Tesla as soon as Tuesday.
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