Voters approve eClinicalWorks TIF
By Bonnie Adams
Westborough – Establishing Westborough as a business-friendly community was the focus of a number of articles on the warrant at the Annual Town Meeting held May 14. Approximately 100 voters throughout the day's two sessions approved a number of measures that town officials hope will help attract companies to Westborough.
After a brief discussion, the voters approved a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Agreement between the town and eClinicalWorks, a Westborough-based business that develops software for the medical industry.
The company recently moved from 112 Turnpike Rd. to 2 Technology Dr. as part of their expansion efforts. Under the TIF agreement, they will receive a tax increment financing exemption on the incremental increase of the assessed value of real property over a period of five years. They will also receive an exemption on the incremental increase in assessed value of personal property as well.
In return, the company will agree to retain the 400 jobs that are currently there, as well as create approximately 100 new ones in 2011. That figure has already been surpassed, Town Manager Jim Malloy told the voters, as the company now employs 650 people, among them a number of Westborough residents.
The company's CEO and co-founder Girish Kumar Navani also addressed the audience.
“Our employees find Westborough a great place to work,” he said. “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to grow here.”
After a lengthy discussion, the voters also approved a measure to authorize $40,000 for the town's Building Commissioner, Tin Htway, to purchase a permit-tracking software system. Currently, Htway told the voters, his department must use a typewriter to fill out all necessary forms related to the permitting process and that anyone seeking to review old cases must go through the laborious task of searching through paper files.
A new software system, he noted, would certainly help improve and expedite the permit process for companies who are looking to locate or expand in the town.
Selectman George Thompson spoke in favor of the measure, stating “we have an $86 million (town) budget but we have a Building Department that uses a typewriter. Several of you have spoken today that you want more tax relief. We used to have a 60 percent business tax base, now it's 40 percent.”
Echoing Htway's comments, Thompson said passing this measure would be a more effective way for the town to assist companies through the permitting process.
Htway also addressed Article 18 that would change the requirements for the way a company displays outdoor signs. Currently, he said, each commercial or industrial enterprise may only have one ground sign and one roof or one wall sign. If Article 18 passed, he said, the company could have either one ground sign and one roof sign or two wall signs. This would particularly help companies, he added, who were on a corner lot. The article passed by a two-thirds majority.
The voters also discussed several articles relating to the way a town does a site plan review. The current bylaw, Town Planner Jim Robbins said, required the Board of Selectmen to hold a public hearing within 65 days, whether or not a project's site plan application was complete or not. Often, he said, the submitted paperwork was incomplete which resulted in the selectmen granting continuances to businesses seeking the permit. The new bylaw would ensure that a public hearing would only be held if the application was complete, met all criteria established by the zoning bylaws, and that all pertinent fees were paid. The measure was approved by the voters.
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