CHELSEA — When voters head to Town Meeting on Thursday, they will consider requests for spending that are up 13.8 percent over the current year’s spending.

At the same time, selectmen are proposing to pull $100,000 from fund balance to lessen the effect on taxpayers. Property owners in Chelsea who claim the homestead exemption, which was expanded this year to $20,000, also will not see the full effect of the increase in the municipal portion of their bills.

Town Manager Scott Tilton said the increases would add 18 cents to the town’s current tax rate of $18.10 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

“It’s a good budget, from our perspective,” said Rick Danforth, chairman of the Chelsea Board of Selectmen.

For years, Danforth said, Chelsea officials held the line on spending increases and put off doing projects because they knew the school district budget would push up property tax bills.

“We’re pleased on the municipal side that we’re finally getting some projects done,” Danforth said. “We can’t put them on hold any more. They are only going to cost more later.”

Among the biggest proposed increases is the one for roads, Tilton said. The budget line for summer road maintenance is up $100,000.

The budget also proposes paying the town’s animal control officer more, extending the code enforcement officer’s hours from 16 hours per week to 20 to meet increased demand, and buying three sets of self-contained breathing units for the Fire Department.

The selectmen supported establishing a voluntary recycling program, with the support of the town’s Solid Waste and Recycling Committee. It’s expected to cost $11,365. The town would have single-sort recycling containers at the Town Office for residents to use.

Town officials also are requesting $12,700 to install energy-efficient lights in the Town Office and to make safety improvements there.

“We have had several occasions when the staff has not felt safe,” Tilton said.

Last year, voters approved $7,500 for a safety improvement program, which was used to pay for additional patrols in town for speeding control.

This year the budget contains funding to install two solar-powered lights in Butternut Park to improve safety and cut down on mischief there, Tilton said.

Tilton said the Budget Committee has proposed scaling back a busing program for high school students. The town has a contract with RSU 12 to pick up high school students from their homes and take them to the Chelsea Elementary School to get on the buses that take them to school, and do the same in reverse in the afternoon. The committee would like to cut the morning runs, which would save about $12,000 a year.

“That will be the decision of whoever shows up to vote,” Danforth said.

Town officials also are seeking voter approval for some changes to town ordinances.

The Animal Control Ordinance has provisions in it to deal with complaints about barking dogs. One proposed change broadens the ordinance’s scope so that any domestic animal that makes a sound for a period of time could result in a violation. Another proposed change would set lot-size restrictions for keeping domestic livestock.

Chelsea’s Shoreland Zoning Ordinance dates back to state standards set in 1996. Selectmen are proposing updating the ordinance to state standards established in 2006.

The Town Meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Chelsea Elementary School cafeteria.

In Chelsea, the municipal elections take place by secret ballot in conjunction with the state primary on Tuesday. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Chelsea Elementary School gymnasium.

In all, 24 seats are up for election this year, but only one person has submitted nomination papers to appear on Tuesday’s ballot.

Benjamin Smith, who is vice chairman of the Board of Selectmen, is running for re-election.

Also open this year:

• Three seats on the RSU 12 School Board

• Seven of seven seats on the Planning Board

• Five of five seats of the Board of Appeals

• Five of five seats on the Board of Assessment Review

• Three seats on the Budget Committee

If the positions are not filled by write-in candidates, they will be filled by appointment.

Danforth said if town officials can’t cut spending, they will have to increase revenue. One of the ways to do that is implementing the town’s recently completed economic development plan, made possible by the TIF district that was created following the construction of a natural gas pipeline through Chelsea. Bringing in new business is expected to help raise revenue for town projects.

This year’s annual report features on its cover renderings of what the proposed Chelsea Town Office could look like.

Town officials worked with students from the University of Maine at Augusta architecture program to come up with possible designs for the building.

“We are trying to build a community,” Danforth said. “There’s no place where people can get together. Maybe we can rally together and build a municipal office and community center, to have a focal point in town. People will want to come in and see what Chelsea has to offer. That’s very positive.”

It will cost money, but in the long run it will pay off, he said.

“If people want to see something happen, they need to show up at Town Meeting and tell us that,” he said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ