Charlemont Town Meeting, election voters to consider $232K override for Hawlemont

  • Hawlemont Regional School in Charlemont. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

For the Recorder
Published: 5/20/2022 4:41:52 PM
Modified: 5/20/2022 4:41:40 PM

CHARLEMONT — Will Charlemont support a $231,958 tax levy-limit override for Hawlemont Regional School’s operating budget, even if it adds another $1.50 to the town’s rising tax rate?

Voters will decide on Tuesday, in the town election and Annual Town Meeting, both to be held at Hawlemont. Polling hours are noon to 7 p.m. Annual Town Meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Because the override results could have such a large budget impact, poll workers will tally just the override vote  immediately, so that the outcome will be known for discussion on the Town Meeting floor. To be approved, it must pass on the ballot, and then on the Town Meeting floor by a two-thirds majority.

If the town defeats the override, Hawley and Charlemont will have until December to adopt a Hawlemont budget before the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) steps in to set a budget.

The withdrawal of Heath students from Hawlemont, who will now attend Colrain Central School, has meant a loss of $296,000 in tuition paid to the Hawlemont Regional School District. If the levy-limit override fails, but the full town budget is adopted, residents will see a roughly 45-cent tax-hike — for an estimated tax of $21.19 per $1,000 property valuation. But if the override is supported, the tax increase will be about $1.95, or $22.69 per $1,000 valuation.

“We have the 10th highest tax rate in Massachusetts,” said Town Administrator Sarah Reynolds. “We can’t keep levying taxes at this rate.” 

Selectboard Chair Marguerite Willis said the town had an 18% assessment hike from Hawlemont last year, while the school was still receiving the Heath tuition; and this year’s budget request represents another 18%.

“The town’s got to make some tough choices,” she said.

This year, Hawlemont has 57 Charlemont pupils, out of 121 total students, in preschool through sixth grade.

Many residents are asking whether keeping the school open is sustainable, given the low enrollment.

“The town needs things,” said Finance Committee Chair Richard Filoramo. “If we had (purchased) the ambulance two years ago, we would have paid a heck of a lot less than we’ll pay now. We need a new firehouse that’s not in the floodplain. We can’t just always keep putting money into the school.”

School Committee candidate Cheryl Handsaker said young families are moving to Charlemont, and the school would be an asset.

“If we don’t find a solution to Hawlemont,” she said, “we may be looking at bigger problems five years from now, when all these younger children start coming in.”


The $4.47 million budget includes a $59,992 increase for the Mohawk Trail Regional School District, and $17,000 more for vocational transportation. For Hawlemont, it level-funds operating expenses at this year’s rate, of roughly $1.04 million.

Other spending requests include $20,000 for bridge repairs, $40,000 for infrastructure repairs, $12,500 to replace and refinish the Town Hall floors, and $350,000 to buy a new ambulance.

The East Oxbow Road bridge replacement project would use $20,000 to acquire easements for the construction project, and the town will vote on layout alteration of Hawk Hill Road for the project. About 20 households exist in the area, but a temporary bridge will be installed for access during construction.

The final article, Article 21, submitted by petition, is a proposed recall election law for town officials. It spells out how to file a recall petition and the process by which a recall election is set. The incumbent would continue to be in office until the recall election. If the recall fails, the candidate may continue in office. If recalled, the official would be replaced for the balance of the term. No recall petition can be filed against an official until at least six months after taking office.

To view the full warrant, visit


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