Samsung Subsidies Snooker
Updated: Jul 24, 2022
Thanks to the Williamson County Commissioners Court, the Taylor City Council, and none other than Gov. Greg Abbot himself, Williamson County and the city of Taylor taxpayers were snookered into massive subsidies for Samsung. Oh sure, they were given the legally required 3-day notice but little to no information about what the County and City were about to pass and its implications for local taxpayers.
The Governor touted the Samsung deal as "the largest foreign investment in Texas ever." Still, he gave no financial details of how the agreement benefits taxpayers -- renters and homeowners -- who are worried about the soaring cost of living in Central Texas. See KXAN Report.
Williamson County granted Samsung 90% tax abatements for the first ten years and 85% for the second ten years. The City of Taylor will give Samsung the same subsidies for 30 years -- see graph below. Our attorney experts on subsidies question whether the subsidies shown here are even legal past 10 years.
It was dog and pony show at the September 8th jointly held special meeting by the Williamson County Commissioners Court and the City of Taylor. The audience was full of supporters, making it seem like more of a pep rally than a meeting to bestow hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for the next 20-30 years.
Our sources tell us that the Williamson County push for Samsung subsidies came from County Judge Bill Gravell (standing just behind the Governor at the press conference) and Commissioners Boles and Long. All three are up for reelection in 2022.
Does anyone, including Samsung, know that the water for the chip plant is groundwater coming from Milam County where years of controversy surround the mass mining of their aquifer by those as far away as San Antonio? We refer to the profiteers at Vista Ridge and their handmaidens at SAWS - San Antonio's desperado public water utility. Judge Gravell was in the press tickled pink the water was not coming from his county.
We’re talking about 7,000 to 10,000 acre-feet of groundwater the first year and 4,000 each year, after that, for one project—Samsung’s chip plant. The water is coming from the Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer in Milam County. The Texas Water Development Board estimates the “modeled available groundwater” for the Simsboro formation, in all of Milam County, is 20,783 ac-ft/yr. Looks like Samsung, Taylor, and Williamson County will take half of the available water in Milam County to run their economic engine. Citizens in Williamson County get snookered on taxes, and Milam County is getting sucked dry!
The graph below provided by Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund (SAWDF):
The Simsboro aquifer formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer has its protector non-profit -- SAWDF -- for a reason. The aquifer is becoming endangered by profiteering scallawags mining it to serve growth unfettered. (See LIV's Big Squeeze for more.)
The respected Meadows Center released this incredibly important report, authored by former Texas Water Development Board Member Robert Mace. "Five Gallons in a Ten Gallon Hat: Groundwater Sustainability in Texas." It's understated summary begins with this sentence:
"Despite the hopes and desires of scientists, engineers, and planners, the projected future of groundwater production in Texas is unsustainable."
Hold on to your 10 gallon hats, folks. If LIV has anything to say about it, corporate subsidy giveaways will be one of the front-and-center issues in the 2022 election because this is so all kind of Texas wrong.
You can read the full City of Taylor agreement here.
You can read the full Williamson County agreement here.
We also recommend this Houston Chronicle Article about Comptroller Glenn Hegar's attempt to gut transparency related to School Board 313 Agreements, involving $1 billion taxpayer giveaways, just as a deluge is expected in 2022 before the law expires.