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Austin’s $4 million F1 incentive?
Austin City Council Member Laura Morrison recently caused a minor stir when she alluded to what seemed to be another public subsidy for Formula One. Here’s what she said:

“As I understand it, there is going to be discussions later next year about whether or not the City of Austin is interested in participating in economic incentives to the tune of what I think I heard is $4 million per year for 10 years, and obviously at that point in time, in order to consider or that request, there is going to be a whole lot more information that’s needed in terms of economic costs and benefits, environment issues.”

Morrison’s comments came during a Nov. 18 meeting at which the council voted to reimburse the F1 developers more than $13 million for the installation of water and waste pipes. The decision was not unusual; the city often pays for the cost of new utility lines to undeveloped areas in anticipation of future growth, with the expectation that service fees will make up the initial cost.

But is Austin really going to kick in $4 million a year to subsidize Formula One racing? The short answer is: maybe, sort of, kind of.

The background: The state comptroller’s office runs a program called the Major Events Trust Fund. As its website explains, the fund “applies local and state gains from sales and use, auto rental, hotel and alcoholic beverage taxes generated over a 12-month period from certain major sporting championships or events to pay costs incurred from hosting the event.” The Statesman

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