Building/Project Related questions
Q. The voters said no to paying for a public safety building. Why are you asking again?
A. At Charlton’s annual town meeting on May 20, 2019, voters approved the appropriation of $28,500,000.00 to construct and equip a new public safety facility. On August 13, 2019, voters said no to a ballot question that would have funded the entire amount via a “Prop” 2 ½-debt exclusion. The project was not contingent on the debt exclusion. The project is moving forward with alternate funding sources.
The need for a new facility was identified twenty-six years ago and is continuing, and acute. A number of measures have been undertaken, the purpose of which is to lower the amount to be borrowed in order to ease the tax burden on Charlton residents.
The public safety building committee is reexamining the design to determine if it can be scaled back even more than what initially had been envisioned, keeping in mind the goal to plan a facility that will meet current and future needs so we are not in the same situation that we are with the current police station.
Before the first payment is due on a new building, loans for the middle school and one fire engine will have been paid. Those amounts will be removed from tax bills. By 2026, loans for the library and the highway facility will be paid, further reducing the amount taxpayers will be assessed.
A capital campaign committee, comprised of Charlton resident volunteers, will seek funding from private and corporate sources. These will include major corporate gifts, grants, “rounding-up” opportunities from businesses, and an invitation to pledge donations and to name sections of the building.
Q. The existing police station was built a few years ago. Why is a new one needed? Why can’t it be renovated/expanded (add on to either side; add another floor)?
A. The police station was built twenty-nine years ago, at a time when buildings were not designed for the use of sophisticated modern technology. When the police station opened in 1991, the largest piece of technology in the building was the garage door opener in the dispatch center. Public visits to the building have increased dramatically, as have calls for service. The police department has seen a 280% increase in calls for service in the past ten years, from 9,268 in 2009 to 25,923 in 2019. The number of police officers has also grown over the years. There is water leakage, insufficient space for processing prisoners, a lack of storage, no public rest rooms, cell room breakage, and other problems of an aging building.
The committee examined the possibility of expanding the building on either side or above, but architectural experts state it is not feasible without a significant financial appropriation that would outweigh the benefit.
Q. Aren’t we still paying for the existing police station?
A. No, that debt has been satisfied.
Q. How much would it cost to build a fire station only?
Q. I heard the design includes two gyms, one for fire and one for police.
A. No. This is a bit of misinformation that has been disclaimed. The facility will have one main gym for both police and fire. There will be a separate, much smaller space off the fire department’s apparatus floor to be used as a “functional fitness” room. Firefighters will do skill-based fitness in their structural firefighting turnout gear. Due to health concerns and cancer causing particulates on turnout gear, you do not want that gear leaving the “hot” side of the public safety facility. The functional fitness space off the apparatus floor will have different equipment from the main gym used by police and fire.
Q. Have you researched state and federal grants?
A. Yes, the building committee has researched government grants. The committee has been in contact with political representatives and has been told that state and federal grants are not available for building projects or equipment. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will sometimes provide financial assistance if a community loses its police or fire station in a major natural disaster.
The capital campaign committee will research and apply for any available grants from private organizations.
Q. What will happen to the old buildings?
A. There are no firm plans. The Municipal Building Committee will suggest the most appropriate uses. Among the likely possibilities:
The fire facility on North Main Street, built in 1929, has no value. The building is falling down and takes on water. Two sump pumps are in constant use. It likely will be torn down and the space used as a municipal parking lot.
The fire station on Power Station Road will be sold and the money will be used to pay down the debt for the new facility.
The fire department’s Quonset hut in Charlton City is on leased land. The lease stipulates that the landowner will receive the building at the end of the lease.
The current police station likely will be used by the town, but no set plan has been established.
Q. How does the cost of the facility compare to new safety buildings in other towns?
A. The price of a combined fire and police public safety facility is comparable to, or less than, new construction in other towns. Recently the Town of Auburn announced the estimated cost of its public safety facility at $40,000,000.00. In addition, the Town of Northbridge announced the estimated price of a new fire station only to be $19,000,000.00.
Questions related to the Capital Campaign
Q. Why is the Town of Charlton launching a Public Building (PSB) fund- raising campaign?
A. In late December 2019, the Charlton Board of Selectmen appointed a steering committee comprised of Charlton resident volunteers. The committee will seek private and corporate donations intended to lower the amount to be borrowed, and the tax burden on Charlton residents, to construct a new public safety building.
Q. Can the money raised be allocated to other town departments should a debt exclusion not pass in the future?
A. No. The money raised will be used only for a future PSB.
Q. Is the donation amount associated with naming rights to an area/item the actual cost of that area/item?
A. No. Named gift prices are based on location and appeal, not on the actual cost of the facility or furnishings.
Q. How will donors seeking naming opportunities be recognized?
A. Depending on the amount donated, donors’ names will be published on the campaign website; appear on a donor plaque; appear on a second plaque in the vicinity of the named area/item. For further information on naming rights, click this link to view the Donor Form.
Q. What are the naming opportunities and dollar amounts?
A. For information on naming opportunities click this link to view the Donor Form.
Q. Is the donation tax deductible?
A. All gifts are tax delectable to the extent of the law.
Q. If I give to the PSB campaign, may I deduct the amount of our donation from my property tax bill if a debt exclusion is passed?
A. No. Donations are made to help reduce the amount needed to be raised through a debt exclusion.
Q. How long will the fundraising campaign last?
A. All donations must be received and completed by 12/31/2021.
Q. What is the fundraising goal?
A. A set monetary goal has not been established. The goal of the capital campaign is to raise as much as possible to reduce the amount to be borrowed for the project and, ultimately, reduce a tax increase.
Q. What is the cost of the PSB?
A. The actual cost of the PSB is unknown at this time. We expect to have an updated cost in August of 2020. At Charlton’s annual town meeting on May 20, 2019, voters approved the appropriation of $28,500,000.00 to construct and equip a new public safety facility.
Q. How can I donate to the PSB campaign?
A. By check, made payable to the “Town of Charlton – PSB”. Checks can be mailed or dropped off at Town Hall, 37 Main St., Charlton, MA 01508 OR by credit card or electronic check by clicking this link - DONATE
Q. Are there additional ways I can donate?
A. Yes. By checking to see if your employer participates in a matching gift program. OR, when shopping in Charlton ask about “round up” opportunities. OR, keep an eye on social media and our website for community fund-raising events https://www.townofcharlton.net/439/Public-Safety-Building-Capital-Campaign-