After counting the trailing zeros in the estimates of the economic loss to the county if Apple pulled out, one Williamson County commissioner changed his vote. Last week, the commissioners reversed their earlier decision and by a 3-2 vote granted Apple a tax break similar to the one Dell just hammered out with the county. The deal is now a tax reimbursement to Apple over a seven year period, provided that Apple improves a public road near the site. Also possibly related was a poll by a local newspaper of 401 randomly selected households showing that, by a 50 percent to 37 percent margin, Williamson County residents favored granting Apple the tax rebate. This soap-opera played out in real life proves once again that whatever the race, creed, or sexual orientation involved, the color of money still reign supreme. In this case, the $750,000 tax rebate paled against an estimated $300,000,000 from increased employment, construction, and consumer spending.
Ironically, Williamson County is named after Robert Williamson, an individual who cherished his liberties deeply enough to be labeled "the Patrick Henry of the Texas Revolution." His impassioned newspaper editorials so moved the Mexican government that they instituted a prize for his head, properly detached from the rest of his body of course.
A small portion of the city of Austin falls within Williamson County. Austin recently become the only city in Texas to offer city employees a benefits package for domestic partners similar to Apple’s. Apple already operates facilities in Austin and a number of Apple employees reside – where else but – in Williamson County.
The Bureau of the Census designates almost all urban areas of Williamson county within the Austin MSA. (MSA stands for Metropolitan Statistical Area, a large population nucleus together with adjacent communities that have a high degree of social and economic integration with the nucleus.) The county population has mushroomed from a modest 37,305 in 1970, to 78,521 in 1980, to 139,551 in 1990. The largest segment of this demographic shift is from the Midwest. About half the urban work force in the county commutes to work in Austin. Hmm…