January 31st Information & Resource Update

In this issue....

  • Bill Summary: Municipal Empowerment Act

  • Save the Date: 495/MetroWest Partnership Annual State House Day

  • SBA Updates Training Program for Small Businesses

  • Community One Stop for Growth Now Open for FY25 Expressions of Interest

  • USDOT to Host Webinar on New Electric Vehicle Grant Opportunities

  • 495/MetroWest Partnership Publishes Interactive Map of EV Charging Stations in Region

  • MBTA Providing Shuttle Service During Disruptions to Fitchburg Line

Bill Summary: Municipal Empowerment Act

On January 22nd, 2023, Governor Healey filed legislation, An Act empowering municipalities and local governments (“The Municipal Empowerment Act”), intended to support municipalities in conducting their operations. A partial summary of the relevant provisions of the bill is included below. A more detailed summary can be accessed here. Click here to access the full text of the legislation.

The legislation, as filed, would:

  • Make permanent COVID-era flexibilities related to hybrid public meetings, permitting public bodies to hold meetings in a remote or hybrid format and make technical corrections to open meeting requirements.

  • Make permanent COVID-era flexibilities related to outdoor dining, and make local control over outdoor dining and alcohol service permanent.

  • Establish a new local option Motor Vehicle Excise (MVE) surcharge of 5%.

  • Increase the local option lodging tax on hotel, motel, and other rentals from a maximum of 6% to 7% (6.5 percent to 7.5 percent for Boston).

  • Increase the local option meals tax from 0.75% to 1% of the sales price of a meal at a restaurant or local store.

  • Make permanent COVID-era flexibilities related to Alcoholic Beverages To-Go. It permits takeaway liquor sales from restaurants on a permanent basis.

  • Amend Ch. 30B in the following ways: (1) equalize Ch. 30B thresholds for advertised procurements to $100,000 for all municipal purchasing, not just schools; (2) enable groups of cities and towns to award multiple contracts through the RFP process and purchase both supplies and services from collectively bid contracts; (3) eliminates the requirement to publish notice of invitations for competitive bids on COMMBUYS; and (4) streamlines procurement for electric school buses and charging infrastructure by allowing single procurements for both under Ch. 30B.

  • Establish a process by which municipalities and executive departments may apply to the Executive Office for Administration and Finance for a "critical shortage" exemption from certain postretirement limitations on employment for specific job titles or classes.

  • Enable cities and towns to combine the appointed positions of collector of taxes and treasurer into a single appointed treasurer-collector position.

  • Increase the allowable term for an executive secretary or town administrator to serve, up to five years, resolving a discrepancy in current law.

  • Allow communities to enter into an intermunicipal agreement for the sharing of any municipal finance official or service, including accountants, auditors, treasurers, collectors, finance directors, or their equivalent, and relevant support staff.

  • Allow multiple communities to implement a Regional Board of Assessors.

  • Increase from 30 years to 40 the maximum bond term for school projects so that the costs are realized in a manner that more closely reflects the life expectancy of the project.

  • Give municipalities the ability to amortize emergency-related deficit spending over the subsequent 3 fiscal years, rather than having to fund them in one fiscal year.

  • Codify that Ch. 90 apportionments approved by MassDOT are spent without appropriation. The community would also be permitted to spend in anticipation of funds in a manner similar to anticipated grants pursuant to G.L. c. 44, § 53A. While language allowing the expenditure to be spent without appropriation is traditionally included in each bond bill, this change would streamline that process.

  • Clarify the voting threshold for land purchase using CPA proceeds as being a two-thirds vote.

  • Allow assessors to abate personal property taxes, or assess additional taxes, to put into effect a final decision about the classification of a corporation as a manufacturing (M) or research and development (R&D) corporation.

  • Allow municipalities to increase existing senior property tax exemptions (“clause exemptions”) by any amount above the current amount of $500.

  • Allows municipalities to increase property tax “clause exemptions” by an amount equal to the cost of living, by local option.

  • Allow cities and towns to grant an additional property tax exemption to qualifying seniors. Criteria for exemption includes owning and living in the subject home, having durational residency, and qualifying based on certain other income and asset levels. The amount of the exemption is determined locally and provided for within the residential class, similar to the residential exemption.

  • Allow municipalities to adopt a one-year override for non-capital expenditures. Similar to a capital outlay exclusion, which is a one-year only increase in the amount to be raised by taxation to pay for a capital item for which a municipality could borrow, this would be for operating expenses.

To access the complete text of the legislation as proposed, click here.

Save the Date: 495/MetroWest Partnership Annual State House Day

The 495/MetroWest Partnership will host its Annual State House Day on Wednesday, April 24th from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

This event is an annual opportunity created by the Partnership for our stakeholders to interact with members of our region’s legislative delegation, hear about their priorities, and ask questions or offer feedback relevant to your business, organization, or community.

The event is free to attend, though advance registration will be required. A full invitation with registration information will be published in early March. 

SBA Updates Training Program for Small Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced a slate of major updates to the agency’s popular 7(j) Management and Technical Assistance program, now being re-launched under a new name, Empower to Grow (E2G)

The program provides eligible disadvantaged U.S. small businesses with free business courses, tailored training, and one-on-one consulting to support their growth, operations, hiring, regulatory compliance, and government contracting competitiveness. The Empower to Grow program uplifts businesses to be procurement ready for federal, state, and local government contracts.

Upgrades to the Empower to Grow program include:

  • Enhancement of customized 1:1 training
  • Launch of the enhanced Federal Market Acceleration Program (FedMAP), a three-month training program in government contracting led by government business development experts
  • Launch of a federal contractor master class providing new tools and techniques to accelerate small businesses competing for contracts including Sources Sought and Request for Information requirements
  • Integration of networking and matchmaking events with government agencies and prime contractors
  • Bidding technology for 8(a) firms to receive, review, and respond to over $2 trillion of State and Local bid opportunities
  • Multilingual counselors fluent in Spanish and other languages to ensure outreach and accessibility in all states and territories

Click here for complete program information

Community One Stop for Growth Now Open for

FY25 Expressions of Interest

The Community One Stop for Growth program is an online application portal where public and non-public entities can access and apply for state grant programs that support community economic development. Being a single application portal, the Community One Stop for Growth streamlines the grant procurement processes for eligible entities throughout the Commonwealth.

Expressions of Interest (EOI) open on February 9th and will be accepted through April 30th. EOIs are optional, and give applicants the opportunity to receive feedback and guidance on projects before submitting a full application.

The full application must be submitted to formally apply for funding. Although applicants may submit as many projects as they would like, it is recommended that applicants prioritize their project requests. The full application can be submitted between May 6th and June 5th. In order to apply, applicants must complete the application through the IGX system.

In FY25, 12 programs will be administered by Community One Stop for Growth. These programs include:

Executive Office of Economic Development

  • MassWorks Infrastructure Program
  • Urban Agenda Grant Program
  • Massachusetts Downtown Initiative
  • Rural Development Fund

Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities

  • Housing Choice Grant Program
  • Community Planning Grant Program
  • HousingWorks Infrastructure Program


  • Brownfields Redevelopment Fund
  • Site Readiness Program
  • Underutilized Properties Program
  • Collaborative Workspace Program
  • Real Estate Services Technical Assistance

Webinars will be available for interested parties. The webinars will give an overview of the Community One Stop for Growth, reframing a grant application for the One Stop, and using the Agate technology platform.

One Stop Webinars

  • One Stop Webinar 1: One Stop Overview Webinar – February 5th, 2024 Register Here
  • One Stop Webinar 2: One Stop Application Guidance Webinar – February 7th, 2024 Register Here
  • One Stop Webinar 3: Prerecorded Technology Webinar – To Be Posted February 8th, 2024

Program Webinars

  • Prerecorded webinars focused on each One Stop program – To Be Posted February 16th, 2024

USDOT to Host Webinar on New Electric Vehicle Grant Opportunities

On February 14th at 1:00 PM, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) will host a webinar on new electric vehicle grant opportunities and technical assistance resources.

The webinar aims to explore the ways that USDOT evaluates “project readiness” in grant applications they receive, and steps applicants can take to better position themselves to receive grant funding. The webinar will also cover an overview of the basics of environmental reviews for electric vehicle charging projects and provide a spotlight on electric vehicle grant opportunities. Click here to register for the webinar.


One of the grant programs that the webinar will cover is the FY2024 Low or No Emission Grant Program. This program provides state and local authorities the funding to purchase or lease zero-emission and low-emission transit buses.

The Joint Office of Energy and Transportation is also offering three webinars related to electric vehicle infrastructure:


  • Permitting and Site Selection Strategies for EV Charging Infrastructure (February 13th, 2:00 PM): Join the Joint Office for the first of a two-part webinar series planning for permitting, zoning, and building code considerations for EV charging infrastructure. Click here to register.

  • Navigating Zoning for EV Charging Infrastructure (February 15th, 2:00 PM): Join the Joint Office for the second in a two-part webinar series on planning for permitting, zoning, and building code considerations for EV charging infrastructure. Click here to register

  • Curbside EV Charging Strategies (February 27th, 2:00 PM): The Joint Office will host a webinar on best practices, challenges, and strategies for effectively planning, deploying, and operating EV curbside charging projects. Click here to register.

495/MetroWest Partnership Publishes Interactive Map

of EV Charging Stations in Region

The 495/MetroWest region is home to a substantial number of electric vehicle charging stations. Pulling data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, the 495/MetroWest Partnership has created an interactive map of all public and private electric vehicle charging stations in our service area as of January 2024. To learn more about the data that was used to publish this map, click here.


To access the interactive map, click here. 

MBTA Providing Shuttle Service During Disruptions to Fitchburg Line

The MBTA announced that Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line service will be suspended between Littleton/Route 495 and Alewife stations from start to end of service during the weekend of February 3-4.

The suspension of service is due to mandated Automatic Train Control (ATC) work. ATC is a federal safety system that sends signals to trains about potentially unsafe conditions, automatic slowing, and stopping a train if needed.

The MBTA will be providing free shuttle services at all stops between the two stations to accommodate for the service suspension. An express shuttle bus will also be available to make stops at the Littleton/Route 495 and South Acton station with a direct route to the Alewife station. In addition, there will be no service at Kendall Green station. The MBTA encourages passengers to consider local bus routes at the Brandeis/Roberts station.

To access the diversion schedule effective on February 3rd and 4th, click here.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you:
Jason Palitsch, Executive Director
(774) 760-0495

Thank you for your continued commitment to strengthening our region.
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