Maintain and Improve Financial Well-being of the Town

Goal 7: Maintain and Improve Financial Well-being of the Town

We believe it is critical for us to sustain and strengthen our town’s financial well-being. This includes commercial and economic development that reflects the long-term goals of both businesses and residents of the community. This also includes promoting vigilance in controlling town expenses and continual evaluation of the balance between reasonable taxation and providing quality town services.

Promote fiscal responsibility

Objective 7.1: Promote fiscal responsibility

Actively manage Town finances to avoid an undue tax burden on residential property

Strategy 7.1.1: Actively manage Town finances to avoid an undue tax burden on residential property

Enhance commercial tax base

Action Item 7.1.1.1: Enhance commercial tax base

Do more to promote economic development to enhance the commercial tax base in order to reduce the residential portion of the tax levy.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Economic Development Committee<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Economic Development Officer
Ripe?: 
No

Encourage empty nesters to stay in Acton

Action Item 7.1.1.2: Encourage empty nesters to stay in Acton

Continue to develop policies that encourage empty nesters and seniors to stay in Acton in order to increase the taxpayer/student ratio.1
  • 1. Acton currently has a relatively high ratio of students to its total population, which results in a relatively high proportion of taxes needed to support the school.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Population and Housing
Other Inventory Elements: 
Facilities
Lead Owner: 
Council on Aging<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Selectmen

Fiscal balance between town and schools

Action Item 7.1.1.3: Fiscal balance between town and schools

As enrollments decline in Acton schools, continue the work of the Acton Leadership Group to allocate increased fiscal capacity in an appropriate balance between educational improvements and other priorities of the town.
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Facilities
Lead Owner: 
Finance Committee<i> </i>
School Committees<i> </i>
Selectmen<i> </i>
Influence?: 
Yes

Long-range capital plan

Action Item 7.1.1.4: Long-range capital plan

Improve the process of long-range planning for major capital expenditures such as remodeling town or school facilities or constructing new buildings.1
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Facilities
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Finance Committee<i> </i>
Manager Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
School Committees
Selectmen
Ripe?: 
Yes

Planning for long term obligations

Action Item 7.1.1.5: Planning for long term obligations

Continue planning to cover long term obligations such as retiree health insurance and life insurance.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Facilities
Lead Owner: 
Manager Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Finance Committee
School Committees
Selectmen
Ripe?: 
No

Financially efficient town services

Action Item 7.1.1.6: Financially efficient town services

Continue to scrutinize all budget items to ensure town services are a "good deal" for taxes paid.
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Facilities
Lead Owner: 
Manager Department<i> </i>
School Committees<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Finance Committee
Selectmen
Ripe?: 
Yes

Supplement revenues with grants, fees, etc.

Action Item 7.1.1.7: Supplement revenues with grants, fees, etc.

Continue to seek federal, state, and private funding sources, including grants and fees, in order to supplement current revenues with sources other than the property tax.1
  • 1. Currently, each department and committee does this on their own.
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Facilities
Lead Owner: 
Manager Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Finance Department
Selectmen
Ripe?: 
Yes

Consider utilizing public-private partnerships

Action Item 7.1.1.8: Consider utilizing public-private partnerships

Consider utilizing public-private partnerships in order to fund large capital and other expense items
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Planning?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Finance Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Finance Committee
Planning Department

Explore other sources of funding town services

Action Item 7.1.1.9: Explore other sources of funding town services

Explore ways of using federal, state, and private funding sources to supplement Town funds in providing town services
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Facilities
Lead Owner: 
Manager Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Selectmen
Ripe?: 
Yes

Continuously improve the efficiency and performance of Town services.

Strategy 7.1.2: Continuously improve the efficiency and performance of Town services.

Explore regionalization opportunities

Action Item 7.1.2.1: Explore regionalization opportunities

Explore regionalization opportunities to cut costs in service delivery, particularly police and fire dispatch services and services such as a community center, housing authority, inspectional services, veteran's services, and nursing.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Facilities
Lead Owner: 
Manager Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Acton Community Housing Corporation
Acton Housing Authority
Building Department
Council on Aging
Fire Department
Health Department
Police
Selectmen
Veteran Services Officer
Ripe?: 
Yes

Create a grants and funding clearinghouse

Action Item 7.1.2.2: Create a grants and funding clearinghouse

Create a clearinghouse within the Town IT system for sharing grant and funding opportunities among Town departments and committees.
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Facilities
Lead Owner: 
Information Technology Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Manager Department
Selectmen
Ripe?: 
Yes

Consider fiscal impacts of new development when amending the Zoning Bylaw and reviewing special permit applications.

Strategy 7.1.3: Consider fiscal impacts of new development when amending the Zoning Bylaw and reviewing special permit applications.

Ensure Zoning takes in to account the impact of new development.

Action Item 7.1.3.1: Ensure Zoning takes in to account the impact of new development.

On an ongoing basis, ensure that all zoning is coordinated with and takes into account the impact of new development on town services, facilities and infrastructure.
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Economic Development Committee
Planning Board
Selectmen

Impact fees

Action Item 7.1.3.2: Impact fees

Consider supporting legislation that would enable Massachusetts towns to charge impact fees on new development.
Timing: 
Long-Term (complete by 2030)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Lead Owner: 
Selectmen<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Planning Board
Planning Department
Influence?: 
Yes

Promote economic development that supports other Acton 2020 planning goals

Objective 7.2: Promote economic development that supports other Acton 2020 planning goals

Recruit and retain businesses

Strategy 7.2.1: Recruit and retain businesses

Increase the Town’s fiscal capacity to implement all goals by proactively recruiting new businesses and retaining existing ones throughout the Town.

Employment-oriented development

Action Item 7.2.1.1: Employment-oriented development

Actively promote employment-oriented development (e.g., high tech/R&D offices) in targeted areas.1
  • 1. Targeted areas for commercial development include Great Road, Nagog Park, Powdermill, and large commercial parcels on Rt. 2.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
New Sustained Action (start by 2015 and continue through 2030)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Economic Development Committee<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Economic Development Officer
Planning Department

Actively recruit a small-scale movie theater to locate in Acton.

Action Item 7.2.1.2: Actively recruit a small-scale movie theater to locate in Acton.

Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Medium-Term (complete by 2020)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Economic Development Officer<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Acton Boxborough Cultural Council
Economic Development Committee

New restaurants

Action Item 7.2.1.3: New restaurants

Actively recruit restaurants to increase their number and variety.1
  • 1. Desired restaurants include mid-level, family, casual, and additional ethnic restaurants. Encourage outdoor seating where appropriate.
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
New Sustained Action (start by 2015 and continue through 2030)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Economic Development Officer<i> </i>

Balance regulatory burden between public benefits and business needs

Action Item 7.2.1.4: Balance regulatory burden between public benefits and business needs

Work to better balance regulatory burden between public benefits and business needs, so that businesses can thrive in Acton.
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Economic Development
Staffing?: 
Yes
Other Inventory Elements: 
Land Use
Regulatory?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Economic Development Officer<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Building Department
Economic Development Committee
Health Department
Planning Board
Planning Department
Ripe?: 
Yes

Buy Local campaign

Action Item 7.2.1.5: Buy Local campaign

Promote a Buy Local campaign for Acton businesses.
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Economic Development
Planning?: 
No
Regulatory?: 
No
Lead Owner: 
Economic Development Officer<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Economic Development Committee
Planning Department
Ripe?: 
Yes

Develop and maintain good relationships with existing businesses

Action Item 7.2.1.6: Develop and maintain good relationships with existing businesses

Develop and maintain good relationships with existing businesses
Timing: 
Ongoing (existing actions or efforts to be continued and expanded)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Economic Development
Staffing?: 
Yes
Lead Owner: 
Economic Development Officer<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Economic Development Committee
Planning Department

Improve existing commercial areas

Objective 7.3: Improve existing commercial areas

Be more business friendly

Strategy 7.3.1: Be more business friendly

Simplify sign bylaw

Action Item 7.3.1.1: Simplify sign bylaw

Rewrite and simplify the sign bylaw to increase flexibility of standards while continuing to protect aesthetics.
Priority: 
2nd Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Planning Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Design Review Board
Economic Development Committee
Historic District Commission
Planning Board
Selectmen
Ripe?: 
Yes

Streamline business permitting

Action Item 7.3.1.2: Streamline business permitting

Improve and streamline the business permitting process, including implementing permit tracking software.
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Short-Term (complete by 2015)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Manager Department<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Building Department
Economic Development Committee
Engineering Department
Health Department
Information Technology Department
Natural Resources Department
Planning Department
Selectmen
Ripe?: 
No

Improve the aesthetics of shopping areas

Strategy 7.3.2: Improve the aesthetics of shopping areas

Work with property owners to make improvements to existing commercial areas.

Action Item 7.3.2.1: Work with property owners to make improvements to existing commercial areas.

Timing: 
New Sustained Action (start by 2015 and continue through 2030)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Land Use
Other Inventory Elements: 
Economic Development
Lead Owner: 
Economic Development Committee<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Building Department
Design Review Board
Economic Development Officer
Historic District Commission
Selectmen
Influence?: 
Yes

Support the financial ability of all residents to stay in Acton for a lifetime

Objective 7.4: Support the financial ability of all residents to stay in Acton for a lifetime

Incentives to keep post-school-age households in town

Action Item 7.4.1: Incentives to keep post-school-age households in town

Consider incentives to encourage seniors and empty-nesters to stay in Acton such as tax relief, preference in hiring for part time jobs with the Town, an adequate supply of smaller housing, and a new Senior Center. In Acton, households without school-age children generally pay more in taxes then they receive in services, so it can be financially advantageous for the town to encourage these households to stay, Also, when households spend more years in Acton, the web of connections between people within town is strengthened (Goal 3)
Priority: 
Highest
Timing: 
Medium-Term (complete by 2020)
Primary Inventory Element: 
Population and Housing
Lead Owner: 
Selectmen<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Acton Community Housing Corporation
Acton Housing Authority
Council on Aging
Finance Department
Human Resources Department
Manager Department

Natural gas extension

Action Item 7.4.2: Natural gas extension

Advocate for extensions of natural gas lines where this would provide options for homeowners to switch away from oil or electric heat. This will save money for homeowners.1
  • 1. This may or may not represent a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions - this depends on the source of the natural gas, the heating source being displaced, and any leaks in the natural gas distribution system
Timing: 
Medium-Term (complete by 2020)
Lead Owner: 
Selectmen<i> </i>
Other Owners: 
Planning Department
Influence?: 
Yes