DVISD board of trustees voted 7-1 at a July 9 meeting to cap the taxable value of Tesla’s potential project at $80 million, incentivizing the company's selection of Travis County as they consider locations in both Texas and Oklahoma for a gigafactory.
Travis County is also considering incentives for the company, and has a meeting which could include a vote on the matter scheduled for July 14.
The potential gigafactory site in Southeast Travis County at the intersection of Hwy. 130 and Harold Green Road would be located on 2,100 acres. According to district legal documents, Tesla would bring around $773.4 million in additional taxable value to the property with the construction of a 4-5 million-square foot plant, although the value will be capped at $80 million. After the incentives, the district would still receive a net benefit of $776,000 annually throughout the life of DVISD’s Chapter 313 agreement with the company, which preserves the $80 million value cap for at least 10 years.
If Tesla ultimately decides to build in the area, Tesla representatives have said the company will provide student internships, STEM curriculum, teacher externships and a variety of other opportunities to DVISD during their partnership.
“We haven’t even imagined the things that are possible for [our students],” DVISD board president Rebecca Birch said. “For a district, this is one of those once in a lifetime things.”
Trustee Susanna Woody cast the only dissenting vote, citing concerns about a rushed process.
“I just don’t feel comfortable with this process, because I felt it was, ‘Get it done this way, or we’ll go somewhere else,’” Woody said. “If we allow this to go through without even looking at other options as a board, I think it will be a disadvantage to our community.”
A total of 424 community members weighed in at the July 9 meeting through written statements. While some commenters spoke against tax breaks for large companies and others expressed concern regarding Tesla’s plans for laborers and the environment, over 330 wrote in support of the Chapter 313 agreement.
“We have the opportunity to give jobs to our young people, and we are from an area that is dying for jobs,” community member Terry Mitchell wrote.
DVISD’s decision does not guarantee that Tesla will choose to build its next gigafactory locally, although representatives from the company have said previously that tax incentives were a prerequisite for choosing the Austin area.
Officials in Oklahoma are also dangling incentives to woo the carmaker, and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has issued direct social media pleas to Tesla CEO Elon Musk to choose Tulsa as its next development site. Musk also visited Tulsa to meet with local officials July 3.
Rohan Patel, Tesla’s senior global director of public policy and business development, acknowledged that the company’s decision has not yet been made, but said July 9 he was enthusiastic about the opportunity to partner with DVISD.
“[This site] has risen to the top because of you all and because of the clear passion of your community,” Patel said. “You’re going to hold us accountable if we choose this site, and you’re going to work with us to make this the best possible site we could come up with.”
This is a developing story. Updates will be added as new information comes to light.