$1.1M budget, ambulance funding to come before Hawley Town Meeting voters

  • Hawley Selectboard Chair Hussain Hamdan clears traffic cones after the 2020 Annual Town Meeting in the Town Hall parking lot. This year’s meeting will be held Monday, May 10, also outside Town Hall. STAFF FILE PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/6/2021 3:48:05 PM

HAWLEY — Voters will be asked to approve 20 articles on the warrant for Annual Town Meeting on Monday, May 10, including a proposed fiscal year 2022 budget that represents a nearly 2 percent decrease from this year’s budget.

The meeting will convene outside Town Hall at 7 p.m.

The warrant seeks approval for a total budget of a $1.1 million, which includes school budget appropriations for Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont regional school districts, as well as Franklin County Technical School. The town’s general budget of $537,478 — a figure that excludes appropriations for the three school districts — is 1.72 percent less than its current budget.

“The overall budget is a slight reduction over the prior one, and that is out of sensitivity to the COVID-19 situation, and also the tax rates that our residents are dealing with,” explained Selectboard Chair Hussain Hamdan. “Unfortunately, due to the situation with state aid and costs beyond our control, such as employee benefits, we do still anticipate there will likely be a slight tax increase.”

Among the other articles is one asking voters to appropriate up to $7,500 to pay for ambulance services provided by Charlemont Ambulance during fiscal year 2022, contingent upon Charlemont signing a contract agreed to by the Selectboard and town counsel.

“The money is being made available in the budget,” Hamdan said. “However, our position is, as already communicated, that money is not going to be given to Charlemont unless and until they have a contract with us that clearly outlines the obligations and expectations of the parties.”

The two towns reached an impasse earlier this year after Charlemont requested that Hawley pay for its ambulance services — which Hamdan said Hawley hasn’t done in the past decade, due to a lack of a formal agreement — and Hawley refused to do so without first reviewing Charlemont Ambulance’s financials, which Charlemont in turn refused to provide.

Hamdan has previously said that regardless of a primary service agreement with Charlemont Ambulance, Hawley residents will receive ambulance services through mutual aid agreements with Shelburne Falls, Colrain, Highland Ambulance and Hilltown Community Ambulance, among others.

Article 7 asks voters to allow the Mohawk Trail Regional School District to borrow a sum of money — not exceeding $665,000 — for work at Mohawk Trail Regional School in Buckland. That work includes replacing the boiler control system; resealing the parking lots; and replacing the fire alarm control panel and related sensors, among other improvements.

Several other articles seek permission to transfer funds between different accounts, including Article 9, which asks to transfer $10,000 from the Highway Department Stabilization Account to the Highway Department Equipment Purchase Account to buy a new power angle plow.

“This is pretty mundane stuff,” Hamdan said of the warrant articles. “We weren’t really of a mind to do anything new or major at this point in time.”

Hamdan said residents should prepare for whatever weather is expected on the day of the meeting, given it will be held outdoors.

To view the full warrant, visit bit.ly/3sW3Njv.

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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