Travis County commissioners are considering an economic incentives deal that they have declined to be specific about, but public comment from local union representatives has been on one topic: a potential Tesla assembly plant.
Austin was recently reported to be one of two finalists for a new Tesla "Gigafactory," and the Austin American-Statesman reported Monday that Travis County commissioners would discuss an incentives agreement for the company in a closed session at its Tuesday meeting.
The commissioners did not formally confirm that they were discussing a deal with Tesla, but did not deny it. Spokesperson Hector Nieto said the county had no comment.
Callers into the virtual meeting asked commissioners to slow down and make more transparent their discussions. Among them was Carol Guthrie, business manager for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local Union 1624, which represents Austin and Travis County government employees.
"What is difficult here is we are talking about someone who is a billionaire—not million, but billionaire—and to consider now that perhaps they need incentives in order to come to Travis County is absolutely shameful, especially when your own employees are not getting a pay raise because were told the funds just weren't there," Guthrie said.
In a letter to commissioners, United Auto Workers Vice President Cindy Estrada and Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy, among others, alerted commissioners to Tesla's "troubled history with taxpayer subsidies."
In a press release issued Monday, Estrada elaborated: "Tesla has a track record of collecting public subsidies from several states but not delivering on their promises," she said.
Jessica Wolff, deputy policy director for the Workers Defense Project, asked commissioners to consider requiring benefits such as paid family and sick leave as a condition of any incentive deals.
Commissioners took no action on the agenda item. County Judge Sam Briscoe said it will be back on the agenda at next week's meeting.
Last July, commissioners voted to "pause" accepting new applications for economic incentive agreements after the Texas Legislature approved a property tax revenue cap. The cap—which was scheduled to take effect this October but may be postponed due to the pandemic—limits how much property tax revenue local governments can collect.
"We simply cannot afford to give preferential tax treatment to our wealthiest corporate citizens, or prospective wealthy corporate citizens, under a 3.5% revenue cap," then-County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said. "This is a 'like-to-have' that we simply can't afford under this new normal."
But on May 26 they voted to un-pause "for one special project for up to two months." The project was not named.
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Whether you became a home chef when the pandemic began or have always enjoyed crafting delicious meals, it’s undeniable that no home is complete without a cozy kitchen.
Take a peek at these five gems on the market now.
In the South Austin Parten community, this castle-like four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom stunner puts you just minutes from Austin, Dripping Springs and other nearby communities. Stark white and black contrasting features give the interiors a clean look, while a large curving staircase serves as a centerpiece for the ground floor. The chef’s kitchen is spacious, facing the living room and multiple windows, and immediately draws the eye. Upstairs you’ll find a spa-style bathroom, game room with a wet bar and Hill Country Views.This listing is held by Adam Zell and Lexie Zell.
This hyper-modern, 3,300-square-foot Scandinavian-styled home is a paradise for natural light in Hyde Park. With four bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms spread across one story, the home rests on concrete columns to protect from extreme climate conditions. Inside, you’ll find crisp, clean trim in the open-plan kitchen with built-in luxury appliances and a walk-in pantry. Lofty 12-foot ceilings and gigantic windows set the tone, with a wet bar and second living room for entertaining. When you retire to the master bedroom, enjoy a warm bath in the soaking tub or enjoy the multi-output shower.
This listing is held by Austin Stowell.
In the heart of Westlake, this stacked three-story new build is a sprawling 4,483 square feet with five bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms. The home is centrally located and full of natural light, especially on the open concept first floor, which includes the kitchen, casual dining space and living area. The third floor has a bedroom and loft, perfect for the at-home worker.
This listing is held by Jen Templeton and Cheryl Albanese.
This 3,539 square foot, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom Tarrytown townhouse is newly remodeled but still holds on to its vintage charm. Bright white cabinets, a green accented island and quartzite countertops in the kitchen give the space a cheery feeling. Entering on the second floor, you’ll have to walk downstairs to get to the bedrooms, which include ensuite baths and walk-in showers. The third level bonus room is the perfect place for an at-home office.This listing is held by Cindy Fowler.
Just outside Austin in the sleepy town of Wimberley, the Backbone Ridge Ranch is one of the city’s most “iconic and pristine” properties. On nearly 50 acres of land, the house takes you into nature without getting too far from nearby cities. With 4,369 square feet, six bedrooms and six-and-a-half bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows effortlessly light the entire space. You’ll feel like a celebrity chef while cooking in the kitchen, even more so entertaining from the outdoor kitchen and living space. The 33,000-gallon quarried limestone pool is perfect for those hot Hill Country summers!This listing is held by Nicole Kessler.
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Sample some spirits
When: 11:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Where: Desert Door, 211 Darden Hill Rd. Driftwood
What: Attend Desert Door Distillery’s first Explorer Series of 2022. Guests will be able to sample Caliber on its own or in a delicious cocktail.
Eat some chili
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sagebrush, 5500 S. Congress Ave.
What: Enjoy great chili and great music at the 14th Annual Chili Cold Blood Chili Cook-Off. All proceeds will be donated to Health Alliance for Austin Musicians in memory of Nick Curran.
Enjoy some local art
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Neill-Cochran House Museum, 2310 San Gabriel St.
What: The Neil-Cochran House Museum will host a multi-media art exhibition by Austin artist Nell Gottlieb, titled “Land as Persona: An Artist’s Journey.” Gottlieb works in multiple media to reexamine her coming of age, white and female in the Jim Crow South.
Catch some improv comedy
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: GameOn! ATX, 1515 Dungan Ln.
What: ColdTowne ThrowDowne is an improv comedy tournament between troupes that will take place in front of a live studio audience and streamed live to the world on Twitch.
Catch a Johnny Cash-style show
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Georgetown Palace Theatre, 810 S. Austin Ave.
What: Experience music history with a unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and the healing power of home and family set to the tune of the legendary Johnny Cash.