Colrain to vote on debt exclusion for Mohawk Trail repairs Tuesday

Staff Writer
Published: 9/3/2021 12:10:05 PM

COLRAIN – A special election Tuesday, Sept. 7 will ask town voters to reaffirm support from July’s Annual Town Meeting for repair work at the Mohawk Trail Regional Middle and High School and avoid a permanent tax increase for Colrain’s portion of $119,102, out of the total $665,000 borrowed by the school district, by exemption from Proposition 2½.

Colrain residents will be able to cast their vote at the Colrain Town Offices, 55 Main Road, from noon to 7 p.m. 

The election warrant question states the extensive repair work will “materially extend the useful life of the school” and the cost, totaling up to $665,000, wiould be covered by contributions from all eight Mohawk Trail Regional School District member towns. Colrain’s estimated share of this expense is $119,102.

According to a copy of the warrant question from Town Clerk Eileen Sauvageau, repair work at the school will include: replacement of the heating boiler control system; resealing of parking lots; replacement of the fire alarm control panel and related sensors; upgrades to certain domestic hot water heaters, condenser units, heating system hot water control valves, and freeze prevention system; construction of a second means of egress from the main electrical switchgear room; installation of additional safety railings to sections of the outside bleachers; replacement of the movable gymnasium partition; and replacement of floor covering in the library.

“The whole vote is so we don’t have a permanent increase in our taxes, which the Proposition 2½ would create,” Sauvageau explained. “It’s a temporary increase for the time we need to pay whatever’s borrowed to do the repairs, and then it would go back down.”

During Colrain’s Annual Town Meeting this June, the town gave the School District the OK to borrow up to $665,000 for the litany of repairs. School Committee member Toby Bassett said in June that the school district wants to borrow the money now because “the interest rates are low.” He also added the boiler system at the regional high school in Buckland is so old that it stills runs on a disk operating system (DOS), which was used in the 1980s and ’90s.

“Under our regional agreement, the cost of capital projects at the Mohawk Trail Regional School are shared by all eight district towns based on each town’s proportionate share of the school’s enrollment based on a five-year rolling average,” Mohawk Trail Regional School Committee Chair Martha Thurber said via email ahead of Colrain’s Annual Town Meeting on June 16

Based on this five-year rolling average for the period Oct 1, 2016 to Oct. 1, 2020, each town’s estimated share of the $665,000 debt authorization is as follows: Ashfield, $117,306; Buckland, $151,407; Charlemont, Colrain $119,102, $48,439; Hawley, $10,447; Heath, $55,960; Plainfield, $42,095; and Shelburne, $120,245.

According to Thurber, Ashfield had its debt-exclusion election the same day as its Annual Town Meeting on June 5, and the debt-exclusions for both Sanderson Academy and Mohawk Trail Regional School passed. During Heath’s Annual Town Meeting on May 8, voters approved their portion for district borrowing. Thurber also said Buckland “overwhelmingly” passed debt exclusions for both Buckland Shelburne Elementary and Mohawk Trail at its election Aug. 24. 

Thurber noted none of the other four Mohawk Trail District towns — Plainfield, Shelburne, Hawley and Charlemont — made the authorizations subject to a debt exclusion when they were passed at their respective Town Meetings.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at or 413-930-4579.

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