County reverses itself, OKs Apple deal


GEORGETOWN, Texas -- The Williamson County Commission reversed itself yesterday and voted 3-2 to approve an incentives package that will bring an Apple Computer factory here despite a company employee benefits policy that covers any worker's same-sex partner.

Last week, the commissioners had rejected a similar package by an identical vote, citing the company's benefits policy as intolerable.

After a week of pressure from business executives and state political leaders, commissioner David Hays switched his vote. "I never encountered a situation where I had to choose between economic development or traditional family values," he said.

He said Apple's policy runs counter to religious beliefs that are "the core of who I am." But he was persuaded to change his vote because "Apple's relocation to our county will mean millions of dollars each year that will be used to educate our children, build roads and bridges, and keep our taxes low."

Apple said it would proceed with the $80 million project, which initially is expected to bring 700 jobs to the county. Apple will be reimbursed $750,000 in taxes in exchange for giving the county the right-of-way for roads and other improvements. The proposal rejected last week was a straight $750,000 tax abatement.

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