With no hot-button topics on the agenda to clash over this time, a staid Ellis County Commissioners’ Court sailed through a short agenda in a little more than an hour during Tuesday’s bi-weekly meeting at the Ellis County Historic Courthouse.
The news coming out of the courthouse broke a couple of hours after the meeting, when County Judge Todd Little’s staff released a letter from Little addressed to Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, urging Musk to look at Ellis County as Tesla seeks a new automotive plant in Texas.
“The Texas Spirit is built on hard work and innovation, shaping the vigorous economic climate we have today,” Little wrote. “I am certain that you are familiar with the pro-business mind set of Texas. I would like to make it clear that Ellis County is immediately available to partner with Tesla Motors.”
If Little’s pitch comes to fruition, perhaps Milford’s “Tesla Tower” won’t be the county’s only connection to the name of the Serbian-American inventor and turn-of-the-20th-century electrical pioneer, Nikola Tesla.
In his letter to Musk, Little touted Ellis County’s closeness to downtown Dallas and its transportation network, with two major interstate highways and convenient air access. Little also promoted the county’s educational system, affordable land, low tax rates, and ability to generate financial incentives.
However, Little’s entreaty may already be too late. Tesla recently announced its intent to build a manufacturing plant in either Texas or Nevada, and over last weekend, reports from Austin indicated that the company would locate there.
Tesla’s potential move to Texas exposes some ironies. For instance, Texas forbids Tesla from opening dealerships because the state considers the automaker a direct seller, contrary to a law that requires new cars to be sold by independent dealers. Tesla refuses to turn over sales to third-party dealerships.
Musk, who professes to be politically independent, also has been an outspoken advocate of progressive causes such as fighting climate change.
But Musk’s cryptic tweet last Sunday — “Take the red pill” — may signal a philosophical shift that aligns more with the conservative-leaning Lone Star State.
• An amended tax abatement agreement with Triumph Aerostructures and Bombardier US Aerostructures was approved, with a portion of the abatement reassigned to Bombardier after that company bought into the Red Oak manufacturing complex. The term of the overall abatement will not change.
• A lengthy consent agenda included an interlocal agreement with the city of Venus for street maintenance; an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow sheriff’s deputies to patrol around Lake Bardwell; an interlocal agreement with the city of Ferris for the use of a morgue trailer during a disaster; and a number of budgeted payments for equipment and services.
• A final plat of a 3.94-acre property at the intersection of FM 813 and Maple Leaf Drive in Waxahachie’s extraterritorial jurisdiction was approved, as well as a final plat of an 11-acre tract being subdivided to five lots along Gibson Road, also in Waxahachie’s ETJ.
• The court agreed to release a performance bond and accept a maintenance bond for the Dove Meadows subdivision on the south side of Old Maypearl Road in Waxahachie’s ETJ.
• Commissioners OK’d keeping GRS Consulting as the firm to provide accounting for the county’s retirement benefit program for the next two fiscal years. Auditor Janet Martin told the court that the county must report these benefits every two years, and GRS had provided these services in the past.
• After an executive session, commissioners took no action.