Amarillo City Council members voted on Tuesday to hand tax dollars to Amazon in hopes of bringing one of the company’s fulfillment centers to the city.

On Tuesday, council members voted 4-1 on three separate items that set the stage for Amazon’s possible arrival in the Panhandle. The first item designated the area believed to be for the Amazon facility as a “Tax Reinvestment Zone.” Following this vote, the council approved a 50 percent tax abatement agreement with the company and an item to provide Amazon Services LLC with $2.5 million in taxpayer monies as part of a “location incentive agreement.” Under the agreement, the tax dollars will be paid up-front to the company.

Amazon Services LLC, ET Amarillo LLC, and Happy Horizons were all listed as parties to the tax incentive agreements approved by the city council.

Unlike most of the items approved by the current Amarillo City Council, there was not a unanimous agreement on this. Councilwoman Elaine Hays cast the only vote against the three items, just weeks after announcing she wouldn’t seek re-election.

She cited free speech concerns with the company as one of her reasons for opposing the items.

This year, Amazon booted the free-speech social media platform Parler from its web hosting service, shutting down the service and forcing them to find a new host.

“Amazon participated in a coordinated attack by the Big Tech giants to kill competition in the marketplace and censure conservative speech. That is very disturbing to me. I would like to celebrate this opportunity, but because of these issues I’m raising, I have major hesitations,” Hays said.

With the votes on Tuesday, Amarillo joins the growing list of Texas cities whose leaders have voted to hand tax dollars to Amazon, including some cities that have approved incentives within the past year.

Citizens concerned about taxpayer funding for companies threatening freedom of speech may contact their state representative or state senator.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.


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