Commissioners approve updates to Bitmain tax abatement agreement

Milam County Commissioners approved updates to a tax abatement agreement with Bitmain Technologies during at meeting Nov. 13.

Milam County Judge David Barkemeyer said the company requested changes be considered in the wording of the agreement. 

“We had a workshop session on this and did the revisions to the original proposal,” Barkemeyer said. “What we decided in our workshop was that we were going to approve this revised agreement in court today and present this to Bitmain as approved by the commissioners. This is our tax abatement agreement to them. We are not negotiating with them on this. They came to us and asked for a tax abatement and we are presenting it to them.”

Commissioners approved the original tax abatement that is expected to bring 400 new jobs to the county in August. The original 10-year tax abatement schedule for Bitmain Technologies was 80 percent for the first five years, 50 percent in year six, 40 percent in year seven, 30 percent in year eight, 20 percent in year nine, and 10 percent in year 10.

Barkemeyer said the schedule of the abatement will stay the same. He said Bitmain asked for some changes to the wording in the case that they don’t meet the investment or number of employees that was the basis for the agreement.

County Attorney Kyle Nuttal said the main change made was to break out the real property from the personal property. He said they added a new section for determination of recapture that allows for a minor miss.

Nuttal said if they miss the $400 million investment they would lose 20 percent of the ad valorem abatement for that year. The same thing goes for jobs. If they are missing the amount of jobs they would lose 20 percent of the abatement for those years they don’t meet that.

“We decided on a full recapture if they are below 85 percent of jobs,” Nuttal said. “On personal property we would go after full recapture if they didn’t meet 75 percent. But again, if they increase their investment the following year and meet their investment there would no longer be a reduction in their abatement.”

Over the last few weeks there have been rumors around town that Bitmain was pulling out of Milam County.

According to a statement from Bitmain spokesperson Libby Freeman construction has been temporarily paused and the company remains committed to the development of the center and the community of Rockdale, and look forward to resuming the project.

Construction has been paused for 45 days as the company attempts to present a public stock option or Initial Public Offering (IPO). Once the offering goes public Bitmain will resume construction.

In other business the commissioners: approved the Court schedule for 2019; approved the deputation of Jonathan Mendoza at the Milam County Sheriff’s Office; approved the purchase of a chip spreader for Precinct 2; and accepted and approved memos of agreement with Milam County school districts for use of facilities and buses in the event of a disaster.