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Voters OK 5-year TIF; Deal is linked to job creation.

Byline: Marc C. Sanguinetti

WESTBORO - Voters yesterday approved a five-year tax increment financing plan for eClinicalWorks, providing the company with tax incentives to create jobs and expand within town. Voters at town meeting also approved a $86.48 million fiscal 2012 operating budget, but some residents called on town officials to rein in spending.

Town Manager James Malloy told voters yesterday that the proposed TIF for eClinicalWorks, located at 2 Technology Drive, is the town's first within the economic target area established by the Board of Selectmen last year. He said that if approved, the TIF would not result in a tax loss to the town. Mr. Malloy said the company will receive exemptions from increases in property valuations, limiting tax increases over the next five years as long as the company continues to expand and sustain employment growth.

Girish Kumar Navani, CEO of eClinicalWorks, told voters that since 2003 his company has expanded from 10 employees to more than 600 and that he foresees continued growth. He thanked voters for the opportunity to continue expanding and growing his company's partnership with the community.

Resident Peter G. Flynn, 3 Crownridge Road, asked what the consequences will be if the company fails to expand as promised. Mr. Malloy said the TIF is reviewed on an annual basis and employment figures are tracked to ensure compliance with the agreement. He said the agreement can be revoked if employment rates fail to grow as outlined in the TIF.

School Committee member Stephen C. Doret said he supports the TIF, saying it creates job growth in the community and calling it a "win-win" for everybody. The TIF begins in fiscal 2012.

Before approving the budget, some residents questioned the town's debt load and spending habits.

Steven R. Buttiglieri, 9 Thomas Newton Drive, said his property taxes have more than doubled over the past 10 years. He said the town needs to re-evaluate which services are essential.

Dominic M. Capriole, 9 Crownridge Drive, made a motion to decrease the $10.45 million debt repayment line item down to $9 million, saying he is displeased with the amount of debt the town carries. Mr. Malloy responded that the debt was approved by a two-thirds majority at previous town meetings and that defaulting on debt would be harmful to the town.

Advisory Finance Committee Chairman John E. Arnold agreed, but said his committee has established a debt management plan with Mr. Malloy and the Board of Selectmen to control future spending. Town meeting voters approved the budget as outlined in the warrant, including the full $10.45 million debt repayment line item.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 15, 2011
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