In this Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, photo, shows the exterior of a Google data center in The Dalles, Oregon. -- Andrew Selsky / AP

The Dalles approves tax break for new Google data centers

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The Dalles City Council voted Monday to approve tax breaks for Google, which plans to expand its footprint in the Columbia River Gorge.

The city and Wasco County negotiated an agreement with the tech giant that will significantly reduce the amount of annual property taxes on up to two new data centers the company hopes to build in The Dalles. The deal would require Google to pay 50% of its assessed property tax on its first project and 60% on the second for a maximum of 15 years, at which point it would be charged the full tax rate.

The agreement also requires Google to pay $3 million up front for each new development. City councilors unanimously approved the deal.

“Google has been a good neighbor, in my opinion, so far,” Councilor Ron Runyan said during Monday’s meeting held via Zoom.

The agreement was crafted using Oregon’s Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) Program, which offers tax exemptions for large businesses selling goods and services to national and international markets.

Wasco County approved the agreement last week. With the city’s sign-off, Google can now apply to the SIP program through Business Oregon.

“The framework is a proven strategy in the state of Oregon, and it has some real bonuses for the communities where it’s employed,” Runyan told the council.

If Google indeed builds the new data centers, which store files for internet users, it would add to an already $1.8 billion investment it’s made in The Dalles and Wasco County. The Oregonian/OregonLive reported last week that the tax agreement could generate about a 15% increase or more in annual tax revenue for the county.

Google has said that the tax deal is necessary for it to expand its operation in The Dalles, which is where the company built its first data center in 2006. The other crucial piece of the puzzle for Google is an agreement with the city to deliver groundwater to the new facilities.

Related: Residents seek more transparency from Google in water deal with The Dalles

The water deal is the target of scrutiny from area residents concerned about the long-term stability of the water supply and what they call a lack of transparency by the city. The Dalles officials signed a nondisclosure agreement that forbids them from revealing how much water Google plans to use at its new facilities.

“As of today, Wasco County and City of The Dalles have approved a Strategic Investment Program (SIP) agreement with Google, paving the way for our continued growth in the region,” a Google spokesperson said in a written statement. “We’re excited to continue conversations with local officials to finalize an Infrastructure Agreement, which would support the long-term health of The Dalles’ economy and increase net water quality and supply.”

The Dalles City Council plans to vote on the water deal Nov. 8.

 

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