Saving a City in Crisis
When Setti took office in 2010, the City’s finances were in crisis and the outlook was bleak. The city had no reserve fund for emergencies or catastrophic events, and was facing an annual structural deficit projected to be more than $40 million within three years. During his first two years in office, Setti reversed this trend and put Newton back on track.
- Double AAA Bond Ratings. Under Setti’s leadership, Newton has maintained an unprecedented AAA bond rating with Moody’s Investor Services for all seven years of his term in office. In 2016, Setti took the unprecedented step of asking Standard and Poor’s to rate the city. S&P also gave Newton a AAA bond rating, citing the city’s “strong management.”
- Outcomes-based budgeting. Every budget Setti has presented since 2012 has been guided by outcomes measurements, delivering increasingly effective services that improve residents’ lives all while saving taxpayer money.
- DataStat: an innovative data-driven approach to governance. In 2015, Setti launched DataStat Newton. This program tracks everything from the recycling rate and number of potholes filled to auto‐pedestrian accidents and changes in the city’s commercial tax base. With DataStat, Setti and his team have been able to make smart, data driven decisions and track outcomes.
Investing in People and Infrastructure
Setti has prioritized empowering people with the education, support, information, and infrastructure they need to be self-sufficient.
- Investing in Education. Setti has fostered a top-tier public school system by investing in new facilities, community spaces, and classroom resources. He is committed to reducing the achievement gap through initiatives like the summer reading challenge, the high school pitch competition, and the city’s summer youth high school internship program. Under Setti’s watch, education outcomes in Newton have dramatically improved.
- Investing in Housing. Setti’s housing strategy, Newton Housing Strategy: A Blueprint to Promote Affordable, Diverse Housing and Economic Growth, outlines how Newton will become a city with a spectrum of housing options, from affordable homes for first-time buyers to options for seniors aging in place. The plan also provides a framework for adding 800 new units of housing by 2021 by identifying 70 new sites for development and recommending inclusionary zoning measures.
- Investing in Infrastructure. Setti has focused on upgrading Newton’s roads and sidewalks to remedy years of neglect, reconstructing 50 miles of roadway since 2013. Moving forward, Newton will be implementing new technology to improve traffic signalling and alleviate traffic congestion.
Fostering an Inclusive Economy
Setti has worked to provide the people of Newton with economic opportunities in the rapidly growing innovation sector. The investments Newton is making today will grow its tax base and contribute to the city’s vibrant commercial sector.
- Solar Share Program. Setti has set aside 0.6 MW of the power produced by Newton’s new solar power stations for a first-of-its-kind community solar share program, which will extend energy credits to qualified, low-income households on a zero-cost basis. This program is part of a larger investment in green energy development that will make Newton a municipal leader in clean, affordable energy policy.
- N2 Innovation District. In 2013, Setti partnered with the Town of Needham and the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber to establish the N2 Innovation District as an attractive place for technology companies to do business. With the additional announcement of new multi-use developments like the Charles River Mill District, Newton is increasingly becoming a place where talent, innovation, and community converge to support a vibrant, entrepreneurial economy.
- Newton Innovation Center. In 2016, Setti partnered with MassChallenge and the Cambridge Innovation Center to open the Newton Innovation Center (NIC), a startup-friendly collaborative workspace. The NIC offers programming, networking events, and internship programs, with a focus towards giving young people the resources they need to succeed. With over 60 startups currently working out of the NIC, its success demonstrates how Newton and other suburbs can be a hub for innovation in the rapidly changing economy.