CHELSEA — Residents approved all 55 warrant articles at Thursday’s Town Meeting, including new municipal rules for soliciting bids and making town purchasing decisions.

Voters also approved creating a board of assessment review to hear property value disputes and a $10,000 town contingency fund.

The new procurement ordinance to guide contracting supersedes the town’s bidding ordinance. It requires contracts and purchases exceeding $5,000 to be awarded by competitively by sealed bid.

Town attorney Stephen Langsdorf said there was quite a bit of discussion surrounding that proposal.

“With the procurement ordinance people felt that this was at least a good start to solving the problems with sole-source contracts and with lowering the $10,000 threshold to $5,000,” Langsdorf said Friday.

“It puts safeguards in place and provides a mechanism that will allow the town to determine when a contractor basically would be banned from bidding on town jobs. So there’s a process in there.”

The 21-page ordinance replaces a half-page bidding ordinance town selectmen have been using, which triggered bid processes for projects above $10,000 and allowed selectmen and town officials broad authority to declare and award contracts as “emergencies.” Chelsea’s contracting practices have been under scrutiny for several months, culminating in the February arrest of former selectman Carole Swan for allegedly taking kickbacks for a municipal plowing contract.

Langsdorf said there was little debate about creating a board of assessment review.

Under it, abatement requests will now be handled by a local board rather than county commissioners.

“The majority thought it was better local people hear abatements rather than county commissioners,” he said. “It’s local control of the appeal process.”

Voters agreed to increase the property tax levy limit as established by state law, he said because the municipal budget resulted in a tax commitment greater than the state-set limit. The secret ballot vote was 65-40.

Langsdorf said he believes the town’s made great progress since February and Swan’s arrest. With this Town Meeting, he said the town can move forward.

“It was great to see the town of Chelsea functioning the way other small towns do with a full board of selectmen, with a fully engaged and experienced town manager and with healthy, constructive debate amount the citizens. I feel like we made a lot of progress since February.”

Linda Leotsakos, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said it was a wonderful meeting.

“They were very supportive of our new interim town manager and approved the entire budget recommendation,” Leotsakos said.

“The discussion was purposeful and positive. I am very optimistic for our town.”

Prior to the meeting, resident Diane Richard received Chelsea’s Spirit of America award for her work at the community’s food pantry.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

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