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Robstown ISD board approves tax incentive for Tesla lithium plant

Tesla moved its headquarters in Austin in 2021 and is now looking to build a lithium refinery in Nueces County. The Robstown ISD School Board recently approved a tax incentive package for the automaker.

The Robstown Independent School District Board of Trustees approved a tax incentive package for Austin-based Tesla during a specially called meeting Dec. 5. The electric automaker may build a $375 million lithium refinery near Driscoll and requested tax abatements allowed under Chapter 313 of the state of Texas tax code.

The unanimous approval came after two Tesla representatives responded to board members’ questions concerning issues such as environmental impact and water needs.

Although no residents in the school district spoke during the meeting’s public comment period, three environmental advocates addressed the board, urging the proposal’s rejection and alleging the district is rushing the Tesla application.

Tesla is also requesting tax abatements from Nueces County, under Chapter 312 of the Texas Property Tax Code. County commissioners held a public hearing on the application on Sept. 5. Commissioners have scheduled a second public hearing at their Jan. 4 meeting, at which time, they are expected to vote on the abatement proposal. Chapter 312 provides abatement of property taxes, as opposed to Chapter 313, which can limit the appraised value of property for tax purposes. Unlike Chapter 313, which expires at the end of 2022, Chapter 312 remains in effect until Sept. 1, 2029.

Tesla is also exploring locations in Canada and Louisiana. The company indicated a decision could come within the next few weeks.

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