CHELSEA — Selectmen awarded a winter sand contract Wednesday and discussed the possibility of a stricter building code, establishing a transfer station, expanding the selectboard and conducting a townwide revaluation.

Town Manager Scott Tilton said he would have liked to have gone with the lowest bid for sand to save the town money. But he said Kevin Peckham of West Gardiner, the low bidder at $7.86 per yard, couldn’t guarantee additional sand if the town runs out in the winter months.

The contract went to the second lowest bidder, Steve McGee, at $9.49 a yard.

“I felt I had to go with the next lowest bidder,” Tilton, who serves as Chelsea’s road commissioner, said

Wednesday. “I feel more secure with our ability to get the sand if we run out. Restocking was the issue with Mr. Peckham. He couldn’t guarantee we would have sand because he closes his pit in the winter. And that was a specification. It’s nothing against Mr. Peckham. That’s his business practice and that’s fine.”

Tilton said selectmen also agreed Wednesday to look into the possibility of adopting a stricter building code. The rules would be in line with the state’s Uniformed Building and Energy Code that went into effect in December.

Under the new code, “towns with a population under 4,000 do not have to enforce the building codes, but it’s an option,” he said. “We discussed whether we want to do more in the way of enforcement for health and safety reasons. The board agreed to look into the possibility. It would take the form of an ordinance and approval at Town Meeting. By no means is it a done deal.”

Selectmen also discussed increasing their board to five members, to aid in achieving a quorum. Earlier this year, the town was down to one selectman after one resignation followed by the arrest of Carole Swan, who at the time was chairman.

“We went through a difficult time with only one selectman,” he said. “Five would also give a broader perspective, more options, more views on certain items. It tends to lend itself to better decision making.”

Residents on Nov. 8 will vote on whether to establish a town charter commission, which Tilton said would be charged with the task of developing a town charter.

He said the idea of a five-member selectboard would likely be addressed by that commission.

With the possibility of Hatch Hill landfill closing in the next five to seven years, Tilton said the board would like to see the town focus more on recycling, and asked him to explore the possibilities of a transfer station.

He said it would give the town more local control, but also residents could benefit from revenues received from recycled items.

“They also discussed the possibility of performing a townwide revaluation,” he said. “They’ve asked me to send out RFPs to assessing companies.”

A revaluation would cost $100,000 to $150,000, he said, “but we’d get that much back within a year from taxes,” Tilton said, “We’d pick up people who aren’t paying enough. They would be paying their fair share again.”
“It would be costly, but worthwhile in the end,” he said.

The board also appointed five people to a Road Advisory Committee to assist Tilton with a town road inventory and road inspections.

He said the information they gather will be entered into a database that would provide him with the ability to prioritize repairs.

Members of the committee are Richard Condon, Paul Soucy, Sherrill Hallett, Joe Mills and Peter Hanson.

“There still are concerns about conflicts of interest,” Tilton said. “I’m still looking into developing a policy that addresses conflicts of interest, but felt a need to get going on the surveys. So, this group has a short-term mission.”

He said there is a conflict of interest with contractors serving on the road committee because they could be in a position of personal financial gain. Chelsea contractors often bid on town projects.

“As we start getting prices and doing more work, there could become a conflict and we’re trying to stay away from that,” he said. “I’m not talking about anyone in particular.”

The board also appointed Edwin West to the Board of Assessment Review. The next selectmen’s meeting is 6:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at the elementary school.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663
[email protected]

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