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Annual Town Meeting, election Tuesday

  • Charlemont town sign. PAUL FRANZ



Recorder Staff
Friday, May 18, 2018

CHARLEMONT — On Tuesday, annual Town Meeting voters will be asked to borrow a total of $476,500 to replace several town vehicles and purchase a generator for the Emergency Management Department. They will also be asked to approve a temporary moratorium on retail marijuana establishments, and to approve “temporary occupancy zoning regulation” for use of campers and trailers in town.

The Annual Town Meeting takes place at Hawlemont Regional School on Tuesday, May 22, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

At an information session this week, Finance Committee members explained that the town’s requested $3.45 million operating budget represents an overall a 1.9 percent increase — a figure that could raise this year’s $20.42 per $1,000 valuation tax rate by about a penny, depending on how much leftover money from last year becomes certified as “Free Cash” by the state Department of Revenue. Town officials are hoping to know by annual town meeting time how much Free Cash the town can use to pay down some expenses.

The five debt-exclusion votes include spending: $150,000 for a new Highway Department loader; $85,000 for a new dump truck; $185,000 to replace a 1995 highway truck with snow equipment; $39,500 for an SUV police cruiser; and $17,000 for a new generator intended for the Emergency Management operations, in the event of a major storm and power outage.

If all the debt-exclusion votes are approved, according to Finance Committee Chairwoman Amy Wales, the debt repayment wouldn’t show up on the tax rate until the fiscal year that begins July 2019. The loans for the vehicle replacements would be repaid within three years, at about $84,173 per year, and the temporary tax hike would go away after the debt is repaid. Also, some of the money to repay the loan may come out of stabilization, reducing the amount of a temporary tax increase.

Voters will also be asked to amend the town’s bylaws by changing “Board of Selectmen” to “Select Board.” This change comes at time when all three “selectmen” are women.

Residents will be asked to support a year-long moratorium on retail marijuana establishments, giving the Planning Board time to study potential impacts of the use of recreational marijuana on public safety and zoning issues. If approved, the moratorium would be in effect at least through December 2018. However, the town is also seeking approval for a 3 percent tax on any retail sales of marijuana, so that, if eventually there are recreational marijuana sales, the town would benefit from the excise tax.

New zoning bylaw proposals on the warrant include adopting a solar overlay district map and allowing small-scale industrial solar energy generating facilities within that district subject to a site plan review. Also, an addition to “Special Regulations” adds a new “Temporary Occupancy” zoning regulation that would require anyone seeking temporary occupancy in a trailer or camper to get a permit from the Board of Health.

Charlemont is the last of the Mohawk Trail Regional School District towns to vote on three regional agreement changes: one is an addition that spells out Mohawk’s procedures for arranging transportation for vocational students from Mohawk towns that are not part of a vocational school district. Another article seeks a vote to take the Rowe tuition agreement for its Grade 7 to 12 students out of the eight-town regional agreement. This way, the Rowe and Mohawk school committees can negotiate future tuition without requiring consent by all Mohawk towns. The third article, to relocate Mohawk’s sixth-grade students to the Mohawk middle school, has already been defeated by several member towns.