Frequently asked questions

How much will this cost me?

The May 2019 Town Meeting authorized a total project cost of $28.5 Million. So far, $1.4 Million has been bonded under the tax levy limit and will be paid through the operational budget. A debt exclusion vote will authorize the Town to borrow the remaining $27.1 Million, to be paid over the next 30 years, above the tax levy limit. Following the opening of the General Contractor bids, the Project Budget was reduced to $25.4 Million. An additional $360,000 has been raised through donations to further reduce the tax burden. At an interest rate of 2.575%, the estimated tax rate impact would be approximately $0.75 per thousand. With the Average Home Value of $281,800 in Charlton, the average single family tax bill would see an annual impact of $211.35 per year over 30 years. The below table outlines the town's financing options and residential impacts. A calculator is available to estimate your total tax bill impact based on your value on the FINANCIALS tab of this website

Why not a Fire Station only? Wouldn't it be less expensive?

The Building Committee conducted a needs assessment for the current Police and Fire Facilities in 2018. Based on the needs of the Fire Department, the cost to construct a Fire Station with Communications Center is estimated at $23 Million. An overall assessment of Current Police Department needs identified $5.1 Million in necessary upgrades to the current station. These included roof replacement (30 years old), ADA improvements, evidance storage upgrades and the addition of a fire suppression system. These upgrades would not include parking lot expansion or improvments to prisoner processing as identified in the needs assessment. This total investment would be an equivalent or greater than the construction of a combined facility without addressing all public safety needs. Additionally, there would be an increase in administrative support needed to house the communications center in the Fire Station as the dispatchers currently handle face to face interactions with the public at the Police Department and act as prisoner cell monitors in addition to handling 9-1-1 calls. Below is a cost impact calculation on the taxpayers if the project was split as a Fire Station Building and Police Department Renovation.

Was this voted down already?

The Town Meeting Vote to approve the $28.5 Million project was not contingent upon the passage of a Debt Exclusion Vote. The failure of the Debt Exclusion Vote did not allow the project to be funded above the tax levy limit. After review of the project scope, public safety needs and funding sources available, the Board of Selectmen have voted to ask the residents to reconsider the vote with a lower debt exclusion amount.

Why isn't the total project amount on the Ballot? Is this a blank check?

A Ballot question for debt exclusions are set explicitly by state law (G.L. c.59, §21C(k)) to take the following form:

“Shall the (city/town) of be allowed to exempt from the provisions of proposition two and onehalf, so-called, the amounts required to pay for the bond issued in order to (state the purpose or purposes for which the monies from the local issue will be used)?”

While state law mandates the ballot question take this form, a definitive answer cannot be provided. One likely reason is that the amount required to repay a borrowing is dependent on various factors including the interest rate, length of the borrowing, and whether bond premiums are applied over the borrowing term be applied to reduce the total project costs.

The amount of borrowing is restricted by the amount of authorized and unissued debt set by Town Meeting which is restricted to $27.1 Million

Why not just renovate existing facilities?

The current location of the fire department headquarters does not have sufficient space surrounding the building to allow for the expansion necessary to meet the needs of the department. The current site utilizes more space than is owned by the town. The Town currently leases 2 surrounding properties to accomodate employee parking and storage for the $1.2 Million Ladder Truck. Station 2 is a 4 bay garage built in the 1929 as a trolly barn and occupied by the fire department in 1970 for additional vehicle storage. The Police Department is also limited in the amount of space available for expansion. The current facility is surrounded by wetlands which limits the ability to expand the current facility and add needed parking. The estimate for necessary building renovations without expansion is $5.1 Million

Why is a Public Safety Building needed?

A new fire facility is needed because: - Existing fire stations do not meet current standards of a modern fire facility - Emergency calls have increased significantly over the years. Since 2009, the department has experienced a 35% increase in calls for service. - Space and proper equipment is required to decontaminate the firefighters’ Protective gear from harmful cancer agents - Space is inadequate for firefighters to put on their turnout gear - Tower 1, the newest truck worth $1.2 Million, is parked across street in a metal Quonset hut purchased by the Firefighters Association in 2005 on leased land - Station #2 originally built in 1929 as a highway barn until 1983 when the fire department took over the front of the building. This station, 1.8 miles away from fire headquarters, houses Engine 1, Tanker 2, Ambulance 2, Rescue 1 and Marine 1 (behind two vehicles) as well as special response trailers operated by the department for Tri-Epic, DPH, Hazmat Response, Emergency Management, and Technical Rescue. Fire fighters must drive to station #2 to retrieve necessary vehicle(s) - There is no running water or toilet at fire station #2 - Squad 1 parks outside - Parking is limited and on land leased from neighbors A new police facility is needed because: - Policing has changed dramatically over the past 30 years and the current police station does not meet current standards of a modern police facility - Calls for service have increased significantly over the years. Calls for service since 2009 have increased 280.00% - Communications Center lacks adequate space for current/modern technologies and operations. The center originally designed for one dispatcher now has two workstations, with the need for three - Some staff share locker space with prisoners - Cells are breaking and prisoner processing area is inadequate - Lobby lacks adequate space for its current use. Individuals applying for restraining orders, children with divorced parents for weekend exchange, sex offender registrants, and individuals disposing of needles share the space - No public restrooms available in the building

When will I get to vote on this?

November 3, 2020 at the Presidential Election

Why hasn't the cost changed significantly since the Debt Exclusion Vote last August?

While the Building Committee has worked diligently since last August to reduce the overall square footage of the building while still meeting the needs of the departments, the estimated cost of construction has escallated at a rate of 6% per month. For each month that the project is delayed, the estimated cost has increased approximately $92,000.

What will the Town do with the existing facilities?

Fire Station 1 will be sold in its current condition by the Town after decommissioning. Fire Station 2 will be torn down to provide additional municipal parking. The Police Station will be assessed by the Municipal Building Committee and Board of Selectmen if it is able to serve a municipal purpose without significant investment (i.e. Senior Center or relocation of certain Municipal Offices). If such a move is cost prohibitive, the building will be sold or leased.

Can local businesses donate services to lower the cost?

All Municipal Construction Projects are regulated un MGL Chapter 149. Construction Procurement Laws prevent municipalities from bid splitting. The full construction project must be awarded to a general contractor with filed sub bids. Qualified local vendors are open to bid on the project as a general contractor or filed sub bidder during the bidding process. Any contractor providing services to a municipality must follow Prevailing Wage Laws. Additionally, The Board of Selectmen have authorized the creation of a Public Safety Building Capital Campaign Committee with the goal of raising funds to defray the overall building cost from the Taxpayers. Information on the campaign can be found here:

What will the Debt Exclusion question say on the ballot?

Shall the Town of Charlton be allowed to exempt from the provisions of proposition two and one-half, so-called, the amounts required to pay for the bonds issued in order to pay costs of constructing and equipping a new public safety building and for the payment of all costs incidental and related thereto? Yes ____ No ____

What is the project construction timeline?

- 8/24/20 – Advertisement for Construction Bid posted - 10/4/20 – Filed Sub-Bids Due - 10/25/20 – General Bids Due - 11/3/20 – November Election - 12/20/20 – Contract Award - 1/1/21 – Mobilization - 4/1/21 – Construction

How will this building prevent your house from burning to the ground if you have a fire?

Currently the department has three buildings that hold fire apparatus. During a structure fire the Charlton Fire Department would respond with all (3) fire engines, the tanker, as well as the Tower truck. Currently these vehicles are located in three different stations, however the firefighters firefighting gear is all located at fire headquarters (10 Power Station Road). There is a significant time delay in getting the needed apparatus to the scene of the fire since the off-duty firefighters have to respond to fire headquarters, retrieve their turnout gear, then respond to the other stations to get the apparatus.

In addition to the delay that occurs by having apparatus in (3) different buildings, fire headquarters is not located in the center of town as well it is located at the bottom of several hills such as Rt 20 hill, Masonic Home hill, and Stafford St hill. This results in a greater delay in response to areas in town. Even though the fire station is hopefully being moved from Power Station Rd to Masonic Home, it will not cause a significant delay in response to areas on Rt 169/Brookfield/Osgood/City Depot area since the vehicles will be traveling down hill.

Why are there 3 copy rooms, room 111, 170 and 204… how many people do they anticipate making copies at the same time?

These rooms are labeled copy, however they are not really copy rooms. These rooms contain the printer/copier/fax/scanner machine that are located in the buildings currently and are just being moved over to the new building. The building is broken down into several areas:

  1. Police Department officer area
  2. Police Department Administration area
  3. Fire Department firefighter area
  4. Fire Department Administration area.

Each of these area will have different personnel performing duties that may require them to print/fax/scan/copy documents and it is more feasible to have these items in areas closest to where the personnel are performing them. Oftentimes, the public may need a large document from the police officer which would occur in room 111 while the police lieutenant is needing to scan/fax a document which would occur in room 204. Again, these machines exist in the buildings now and they will be moved over to the new building.

What is the quarter master room # 116?

This room is located on the police side, this is where they store unused AED’s, tasers, Narcan administration kits, etc. for the patrol vehicles that are not in service. The police department has enough equipment for several vehicles and not every vehicle is in service all the time. When a police cruiser is taken out of service for a period of time, this is where they would store their vehicle’s equipment.

What is the bulk property room # 118?

Bulk property storage room is an area for the police to store large items such as a recovered bicycle, dirt bike, etc. Any item that is too large to store in the normal evidence areas. Currently the police department does not have an area to adequately store these items.

Is room 113 for police sergeants?  If so, how many sergeants are there on the police force?

There are currently (4) police sergeant positions in the department and during the design process the room was designed for an additional (2) positions. This was directly in response to the current police station being designed for (2) sergeants and over the last thirty years they had to add an additional (2) positions resulting in a closet being designed as an office as well as an additional desk added into a room that was designed for only 2. The room will only have (4) pieces of furniture for the room, however it is designed large enough to fit an additional two if needed.

There are 4 cells (excluding the padded cell and holding cell) – what is the average daily use of cells?

The number of cell rooms is contingent on a formula that is based on the number of annual arrests, population in town, etc. The police department needs the capability to hold three categories of prisoners; male prisoners, female prisoners, and juvenile prisoners. Currently the police department has (4) cells, however these cells can not be used to hold the three categories of prisoners since they are adjoining cells and laws prevent this. These new cells meet the requirements to hold (4) individuals in any combination of the categories.

Room # 134  “lab” do  we do lab work in our town?

The lab is where the police department detective processes finger prints and other evidence collected from the scene. In addition, this is where they would store blood that is collected from the scene prior to sending it to the state lab for processing.

What is office #136 for?

Office 136 is located is in the emergency communication center of the building. This room has been designed to be used currently by the lead dispatcher for various administrative tasks including call review ensuring quality assurance and other administrative tasks performed by the lead dispatcher. In addition, this room was created in anticipation of future needs.

How often are 3 interview rooms needed, room #’s 104, 109, 131.

Room 104 is located in the lobby (unsecure area) of the building. This room has the label of interview however this room has many functions, including a walk in medical triage room, sex offender registry holding room, license to carry interview room, person walk in to discuss a private issue with an officer while people are in the lobby.

Room 109 is an actual interview room in the secure area of the police station. This would be used by the police department only to interview individuals that have not been arrested yet and arrive at the police station. As well as a female/male party who comes to the police station to report a rape, assault, threats, etc.

Room 131 is in the prisoner lock-up area that they use during their prisoner processing area. There is an additional interview room located in the detective area on the second floor. This room is used by the detectives when they are interviewing their informants, suspects, etc.

What is administration room 171 for?

Room 171 is the administrative assistant for the Fire Department side of the building.

Room # 168 – chief?  Is that police or fire?

Room 168 is for the Fire Chief

Room # 167 – deputy, is that police or fire?

Room 167 is for the Deputy Fire Chief

Room # 166 – captain, is that police or fire?

Room 166 is for the on-duty Fire Captain

Room # 217, detectives?  Police or fire and how many are there?

Room 217 is for the police detectives.

Room 217 is for the police detectives, currently there are (2) positions in the detective bureau however there is only (1) assigned for now. They are anticipating of filling the open position and the other position would be for future growth. There will be only (2) desks in the room with the ability to add a third one in the future.

Room #209, chief – fire or police?

Room 209 is for the Police Chief.

Room # 208, office – for what/who?

Room 208 is in the Police Admin area, this Police Chief has anticipated this room to be used by the interns that Charlton Police obtains from local colleges, as well as for the dog officer and for a possible 2nd lieutenant in the future.

Room #207, lieutenant office, fire or police?

Room 207 is for the Police Lieutenant

There appears to be 2 kitchens on the second floor, a smaller one and a full kitchen, room #’s 219 and 223, why?

Room 219 is on the police side of the building, this room is a break room for the police officers to eat their food during meal breaks as well as this area will be for them to conduct roll call during shift changes. Roll call is where information is shared among the shifts.

Room 223 is on the fire side of the building, this area is a kitchen for the firefighters. Since the firefighters work 24-hour shifts, they have a kitchen which will allow them to cook their food during the shift.

I counted 15 (including the public restrooms – they can be used by staff when not in use by the public), #’s 106, 107, 114, 137, 149, 150, 153, 154, 210, 220, 222, 234, 235, 248, 249.

The building is broken down into four “buildings”; Police, Fire, Emergency Communications, and Public. Each of these buildings require certain items.


The building has a Emergency Operations Center/Community Room/Training Room. This room can hold 40 people, whether for a regional training for police, fire, emergency management, or a combination. As well, this room can be used by any community organization in the town including boards to hold their meetings. Lastly, this will be used in the event of a large disaster such as a blizzard, hurricane, ice storm, tornado, etc in which department heads will gather to help mitigate the issue. There are a total of (7) toilets that will serve the individuals using this room (106, 107, 248, and 249).


Bathroom 210 is in the police administration area of the building, this will be used by the Police Chief, Police Lieutenant, Administrative Assistant, etc.

Bathroom 114 is in the police officers side of the building. This room will allow the officer quick access to a bathroom in the event he/she was writing a report and needed to go out on a call quickly. It is necessary for the officer to be able to have quick access to a bathroom to not delay response.

Bathroom 220 and 222 are in the Men’s and Woman’s locker of the police officer side. These lockers are specific to the police officers that are coming on/off duty and for them to use the bathroom when needed.

Emergency Communications

Bathroom 137 is for the dispatchers working. In the event they are by themselves and they need to use the bathroom, they need to have quick access to a bathroom so they may get back to the dispatch room quickly in the event a 911 call rings in.

All police bathrooms need to be in the secure area of the building since they have equipment that need to remain secured at all times. Them using a public bathroom when the public is not using them does not make any sense for security reasons as well as for practicality.


Bathroom 149 and 150 are located in the Fire Administration side of the building. Since there is a Administrative Assistant, (2) volunteers, a Fire Chief, a Deputy Fire Chief, a Duty Captain, etc. there are two bathrooms for these individuals to use.

Bathroom 153 and 154 are in the Men’s and Woman’s locker room on the firefighter side of the building. After the firefighters respond to a building fire, auto fire, any other fire or a hazardous materials incident the firefighters are required to take a shower and change their uniform prior to leaving the “hot” area of the station. As well, these bathrooms will be used by the firefighters when they report in for work in the morning, prior to going home at the end of their shift, as well as the area that is the closest to the apparatus in the event of an emergency call and the firefighter needs to use the bathroom prior to getting on the apparatus.

Bathroom 234 and 236 are in the firefighter section of the building on the second floor. Since the firefighters are in the building for 24-hours, after 4 pm the firefighters will be on the second floor unless there is training or calls goin on. The firefighters will use these bathrooms upstairs, instead of going out in the lobby and waiting to use the bathroom since someone from the public is using it or going downstairs just to use the bathroom.

I can understand that it appears that there are a lot of bathrooms, however they have very specific purposes and reasons. The architect used a formula when calculating the number of bathrooms based on people in the building at one time and distance between bathrooms while being an emergency services building.

If proximity to wetlands restrict's the town's ability to expand the current Police Department, how can they building the Public Safety Building right next to it?

The Site Plan of the Public Safety Building attached illustrates the location of existing wetlands in proximity of the existing Police Station and the proposed Public Safety Building. As noted on the plan, the lot owned by the Town where the Police Department Is located is fully restricted from further expansion by wetlands on the property. The Public Safety Building is located on an adjacent lot deeded to the town for the expressed purpose of construction of a Public Safety Building. If a parking lot were constructed on this property for the sole purpose of parking at the Police Department, access to the Police Department from the lot would still be inhibited by the wetlands separating the two parcels.

Is the need for a new police department due to lack of maintenance?

The station's issues meeting the standard of current police facilities are not due to lack of maintenance. The town continues to put a priority on maintaining the assets that are under our control. The standards for police facilities have changed significantly over the past 30 years including the standard for evidence processing, prisoner handling and 911 dispatching.

The department has worked within its budget to meet these standards within the facility they have. Increasing space needs of the department and capital maintenance items such as pending 30 year roof replacement, renovation of lock up facilities, elevator installation to meet ADA standards, 911 dispatch space needs and improved evidence storage add up to significant capital investments. Without the ability to expand the existing footprint of the building and expand parking on the site, the existing facility is unable to be renovated for the anticipated future needs of the department.

What happens to the money that's left over after building is built?

The loan authorization allows the town to borrow up to the amount approved by Town Meeting ($28.5 Million). If the total cost of the project is completed for under this amount, the Town will only borrow the total amount expended.

Does the Debt Exclusion Replace a 2 1/2 Override Question?

A Debt Exclusion allows the total amount of funds not borrowed at the time of the ballot question to be raised above the tax levy limit only for the debt service on that project. At the completion of the borrowing, the increase falls back off the tax rate. A 2 1/2 Override is a permanent increase in the tax levy.

Information Provided by the Charlton Public Safety Building Committee & Tecton Architects