– News about elsewhere covered by Quincy Quarry News.
All humanity has left the area – paying for Tesla’s Gigafactory.
Cities around Tesla’s so-called Gigafactory in northern Nevada lined up with the hope of hitting a jackpot.
These tired and dusty provincial versions of Las Vegas sought to host innovative makers of lithium ion batteries for electric cars and so become partners in Elon Musk’s vision of a clean energy revolution.
Tesla’s battery factory has brought high-paid tech jobs to Nevada – but it is also enjoying huge tax breaks critics say have seriously depleted local public services.
That was not the pitch in 2014 when Nevada beat rival bids from California and New Mexico to land Tesla’s Gigafactory.
Nevada successfully landed the Gigafactory by providing Tesla with exemptions from sales-and-use, property and general business taxes for 10 to 20 years, adding up to an estimated as well as unprecedented $1.4 billion.
In turn, the tax credits given to Musk’s company will soak up most of a tax revenue surplus that Nevada would have otherwise taken to the bank this year.
Stephen Driscoll, Sparks Nevada’s city manager, said between surging population growth and increased strain on police and fire departments as well as local public schools “… I’m at net zero …” even though his annual budget has increased in the past two years.
Similarly, schools in Washoe County, which includes Sparks, are overcrowded and deeply in debt – so much so that voters in 2016 approved a sales tax hike to help plug the gap.
Even so, budget cuts could eliminate bus routes for nearly 4,000 elementary and middle school students in an effort to save $550,000.
Adding to problems, the tech worker influx has sent rents rocketing, tipping residents on fixed incomes, especially seniors, into penury.
“The factory is a good thing,” said Omar Alvarez, 28, a building contractor who earned $18 an hour plus generous benefits at Tesla’s factory. “Well, as long as you actually work there.”
A troubling question now hovers over Sparks. Is Tesla itself a winner or loser?
Having bet on the Gigafactory, the city’s fate hinges on the company’s success, said Richard Daly, business manager of Laborers’ Union Local 169. “Growth problems are better than recession problems.”
“Giving so much to Tesla was risky,” said Eloy Jara, another labor leader. “If they fail it could really hurt.”