Apple has offered to spend $9.7 million on transportation initiatives in its hometown of Cupertino. As detailed by The Mercury News, Apple’s funding would go towards five transportation projects focused on bikers and pedestrians.
Apple’s offer of $9.7 million in funding comes following a proposal from Cupertino that would have changed the city’s business tax from being based on square footage to being based on total number of employees. The new system, referred to as a head tax, would have generated $10 million annually for the city of Cupertino, much of which would come from Apple:
Apple approached the city after a proposal last year to change the city’s business license tax from a flat fee with a progressive rate based on total square footage, to a tax based on the number of people a business employs. The change would have generated $10 million in annual revenue, most which would have come from Apple, the city’s largest employer with 24,000 workers.
Apple voiced opposition to the head tax proposal last year, saying that Apple has worked hard improve traffic and congestion for Cupertino. Ultimately, the decision was delayed until 2020 in an effort to give city officials and Apple the chance to come to another agreement.
Apple’s proposal of $9.7 million in funding has received mixed reactions from city council members. Vice Mayor Liang Chao said the offer is disappointing in comparison to the head tax legislation:
“I have to say, I’m a little disappointed at the funding level. When we were considering the tax, the city would have gotten $10 million in ongoing income,” said Vice Mayor Liang Chao.
Chao also questioned why Apple’s proposal focused on bike and pedestrian projects rather than efforts directly related to relieving traffic congestion. Chao and fellow council member Darcy Paul also suggested they approach Apple for separate funding for a community shuttle project.
Mayor Steve Schaf, however, had a different take and questioned when it’s appropriate to ask Apple for money:
“Apple was interested in bike and pedestrian improvements…it’s not that every need the city has, you go and ask them for money,” said Mayor Steven Scharf.
“I think they’ve decided how much they want to donate,” he later added in response to Chao’s questions.
In a letter to the city council, Apple’s Kristina Raspe said that Apple is “happy” to financially support the five bike and pedestrian initiatives:
“After much work with the City, we have identified several Phase 1 projects that we are happy to financially support and move forward on as quickly as possible,” said Kristina Raspe, Apple’s vice president of real estate and facilities, in a March 27 letter to the council.
Cupertino’s council will vote on Apple’s offer at an undisclosed later date.
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