SOUTHBRIDGE – In the first town council meeting with the new chair and vice chair selections settled, the council settled various items of business including an update to the town’s payroll and accounting system and a tax increment financing (TIF) agreement with Hardline Treat Heating, Inc as well as the second reading of a proposed amendment to zoning bylaws to address medical marijuana dispensaries.
The council voted in favor of ratifying a contract with Tyler Technologies to provide conversion of town financial systems and software to a system called Munis, which provides the ability to integrate, modernize and add accessibility to town payroll, vendor accounts and citizen services such as tax information and payments.
Seth Racine, business manager for Southbridge Public Schools, remarked that, “The current financial system that we run all of our finances on, we pay all our bills, we run our payroll through, was implemented at a time when, in terms of technology, the most popular search engine was Ask Jeeves, when the most popular phone was a flip phone and the most common social media was MySpace or Friendster.”
The approval of a contract to update the financial system was approved by a vote of seven to one, with Councilor Rick Nash voting against due to concerns over the manner in which the bidding process for services was executed. Councilor Monique Manna was absent and excused from the meeting.
Councilors approved a tax financing agreement (TIF) with Hardline Heating, Inc., which is located on Ashland Avenue. Rosemary Scrivens, director of economic development and planning, remarked that the tax financing agreement allows the company to expand within Southbridge, rather than leave Southbridge as the company experiences business growth. The company currently employs 36 people, and it expects to create approximately 10 more positions in the next 10 years. The agreement was approved unanimously among those present, with councilor DiPietro recusing himself from the vote.
The meeting also saw the second of three required readings for an amendment to Southbridge zoning bylaws. The amendment refers to definitions for medical marijuana facilities, including registered medical marijuana cultivation centers (RMMCCs) and registered medical marijuana dispensary centers (RMMDCs).
The third and final reading of the proposed zoning bylaw amendment will be held at the Town Council meeting on Monday, Sept. 10. At the third reading of any bylaw or bylaw amendment, the council is expected to vote on whether or not to accept the proposed bylaw or amendment as read. Residents are welcome to attend each town council meeting and provide feedback on the issue or to ask questions about the proposed measure.
This zoning bylaw amendment is distinct from a bylaw passed by Town Council earlier this year prohibiting businesses which cultivate, manufacture or sell recreational marijuana or related products. The currently considered bylaw amendment provides language that defines medical marijuana terms and the areas where such a business could be allowed.
The Southbridge town council will hold a special meeting Thursday, Aug. 23, at 7 p.m. in the Veterans’ Room of Town Hall. The next regular town council meeting will be held Monday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. in council chambers.