Grants help Pioneer Valley towns update technology

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Staff Writer
Published: 10/18/2018 4:53:23 PM

Nearly a million pages of Amherst’s historic municipal documents, including permit applications, building plans and Select Board minutes, are already scanned electronically.

With a $65,000 award from the state’s Community Compact Information Technology Grant Program, Amherst’s IT staff will soon be able to make these documents available to the public and town employees through a new townwide document management system.

“It’s a system for taking documents we’ve scanned and continue to scan, and putting them into an electronic format that is indexed and searchable,” said IT Director Sean Hannon.

Amherst is one of six area communities and 44 cities and towns across the state receiving a total of $3 million from the grant program, which aims to modernize technology systems and help cities and towns deliver service to their residents more efficiently and at lower cost.

Hannon said the grant pays for all software and training related to implementing the system. The information will be accessible to the public, similar to how his department has scanned and uploaded to the town website annual town reports dating back to 1861. Hannon added that he anticipates public information requests to be less time-consuming and more easily retrieved.

In Hadley, $19,350 will go toward creating a consolidated billing and collection system, which will allow all property tax, sewer, water and motor vehicle and boat excise bills to be handled on a single platform.

Town Administrator David Nixon said the amount requested covers the installation and set up of the new system. He said Hadley is fortunate to receive the money.

“Yearly operational costs will be in the budget, but there should be a reduction in overall operational costs for the collector’s office, as the integrated system is less expensive to operate,” Nixon said.

Other communities receiving grants include Belchertown, with $81,000 that will go toward implementing an e-permitting and licensing platform; South Hadley, with $18,563 for enhancing the town’s permitting platform; Sunderland, with $31,000 for improvements to modernize server infrastructure; and Cummington, with $24,464 to implement a modern and reliable network at the Community House.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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