Boxborough to rename 'Fifer's Day' to 'Acton Day'

BOXBOROUGH, MASS. (May 29, 2014) -- As a show of gratitude by the citizens of Boxborough, their annual Fifer's Day, scheduled this year for June 21, will be renamed "Acton Day," according to Joe Smith, a member of the Boxborough Board of Selectmen (BS).

"We wanted to let the world know how grateful we are because of the actions of a handful of Acton taxpayers last June who voted to expand school regionalization. It's as if every Boxborough taxpayer is going to get a very nice Christmas gift every month, courtesy of Acton, and we are very appreciative," Smith said.

"While we didn't want to spend any money thanking Acton, we feel that naming our annual celebration day 'Acton Day' would be both frugal and welcomed. Clearly Acton residents care about stuff like that," Smith added.

"This change will be on a trial basis. Any thankless Boxborough taxpayer who complains is welcome to commit a $1,000 annual donation to the town, and if we can raise over $2 million in annual pledges, we'll go back to 'Fifer's Day' next year," Smith said.

Acton Town Manager Philomena Philodendrum was not happy with Boxborough's decision. When cornered, she said the town vigorously objected to the name "Acton Day," which is the same name Acton uses for it's annual celebration day.

"We've looked at a legal response, which of course is our first reaction, and then we thought we could just call our day 'Boxborough Day.' I mean, what the heck, we are already giving them our money. Maybe if we returned the favor they would agree never to negotiate anything with our town leaders again," Philodendrum said. "Besides, it is clear that our 'Boxborough Day' would properly reflect the obvious affection we have for their taxpayers."

Boxborough's property taxes on average will be going down next year around $140, while Acton's will be increasing $339. But when you compare the two towns' average tax bills directly, Boxborough taxpayers are already saving around $1,000 a year off their property taxes compared to what Acton taxpayers pay, and this chasm, this rift, this Grand Canyon, this disparity, this division, this divergence, this dichotomy, this disaster, this divisiveness, this really bad and totally unfair outcome is likely to grow in the coming years.

The town of Boxborough will probably be the only town in the Commonwealth next year with three years in a row of decreasing annual property tax bills, according to an analysis of state and town information by Acton Forum. See

In contrast, Acton's taxes will have risen over 3% per year during the same period, partly because of the subsidy given to Boxborough taxpayers by Acton taxpayers.


Acton Forum wanted to get some real community input so we took a recent stroll through the Boxborough town center but didn't encounter anyone. So we started knocking on doors.

"I am so thankful for our 'poorer cousins' down the road," said one homeowner, who was doing a major kitchen remodel. "I always wanted one of those island thingies. Thank you, Acton," she said.

"Changing the name of our annual celebration day was smart in any case," she added. "Nobody ever knew what a 'fifer' was anyway."

We caught up with a Mr. Cunningham as he was walking his dog. "I used to dread receiving my quarterly property tax bill, and now I look forward to it," said Cunningham. "I have the strangest feeling opening that envelope, which is hard to describe. It is like shouting for joy and laughing at the same time. And I feel that way for days afterwards."

Asked if he was planning on spending any of his largesse, he said no.

"I am going to put it in the bank," Cunningham said. "Some people are foolish with money and some are careful. As a Boxborough resident, I think you can guess which category I'm in," he said. Cunningham then broke into a hearty laugh. Even Cunningham's dog was amused.

Acton Forum found one other resident, Mr. Jones, who asked if we were from Acton. "Sometimes when I think about it, I feel really bad for you guys, but then I think about the things I want, like a new addition on my house, vacations, a new car...and I realize that I'd rather feel bad and have those things than not."

"Besides, it's not like all people living in Acton are poor and can't afford to subsidize our property taxes up here. Some of you live in McMansions," Jones said.

"If I lived in Acton with this house, it would be worth less and my tax bill would be much higher. But I wouldn't change a thing," he added.

"I'll send you a postcard from my upcoming six-week trip to Australia and New Zealand," Jones said.

Acton Forum caught up with one member of the Acton-Boxborough Regional School Committee for their reaction. "I was a strong supporter of regionalization. We are saving a ton of money over what we would have spent had we not regionalized. But then again, I'm from Boxborough so maybe I am biased."

Boxborough's 'Acton Day' will take place on Saturday, June 21st at Flerra Fields. All Boxborough residents are invited to attend. For more information, see their website:

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Neighborly Behavior

I assume this was intended as humor, but most of this humor seems fairly mean-spirited, and just generally pokes fun at Boxborough. (not to mention the various inaccuracies, the phony interviews, etc.)

We've regionalized the entire school system now, whether for good or for bad. I think we all need to treat our neighbors with respect, so that our children will know what kind of behavior we expect from them when dealing with their school mates.

I don't think this "piece" of yours comes anywhere close.

Kid readers

Dear C,

I don't know how many school children read the Acton Forum. I'd love to think it was a lot, but I'm sure it's not.

My audience is not comprised of children. Therefore, I don't need to worry about the issue you raise.

If all political discussion is judged by your test, we would not have any.

However, If I get drafted by the Red Sox next year as expected, I'll keep your 'role model' comment in mind.


Allen Nitschelm has lived in Acton since 1998 and writes about fiscal issues at the
local and state level. He is a former member of the town's Finance Committee
and is an Associate Publisher of Acton Forum.

Good behavior... how we act when we think the children aren't watching.

Whatever. It was about as constructive as a response as I expected.

Rage on. I'm sure you're doing the country a great service.