CHELSEA — Voters at the annual Town Meeting on Thursday voted to raise $31,750 to bus high school students, but to do so through reimbursements rather than one payment up front as is done now.

In 2010, the school district, Regional School Unit 12, refused to provide district-funded, in-town transportation, saying Chelsea was the only town in the school unit receiving the service. Residents agreed Thursday to pay more rather than lose the service, but instead of paying up front like the town has been, to reimburse the district.

The district provides students transportation to the district high school, Wiscasset High School, which is half an hour away. The extra money is for students who choose to go to closer high schools, like Cony in Augusta, Gardiner and Hall-Dale in Farmingdale.

Linda Leotsakos, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, told the 60 residents who attended Thursday’s meeting that she and Barbara Skehan, Chelsea’s representative on Regional School Unit 12 Board of Directors, have made numerous attempts over the past year to get a breakdown of the costs associated with transporting secondary students.

She said the town has not received any verification of what the district spends per mile for gasoline or drivers’ salaries.

The reimbursement could be done with a quarterly bill instead of a lump sum payment, she said.

“The goal is to work with the RSU and it seems like the reimbursement approach will get us the documentation we need,” she said.

Skehan told residents that she supports Leotsakos recommendation to amend the original article to say “for reimbursement.”

“We’ve not got a full accounting of the money,” Skehan said. “We are billed for the money with no accountability.”

Residents also passed four ordinances on Thursday: fire department service billing, culverts, exempting eligible active duty military personnel from motor vehicle excise tax law, and property-assessed clean energy, known as PACE.

A count had to be taken when it came to the last proposed ordinance, to regulate the storage and disposal of garbage and junk. The vote was 31-28 in favor of the ordinance.

Residents Tim Coitrone and Dick Condon said they were against the proposal, saying it was confusing and unfair. Other residents said people should have the right to do what they want on their own property.

Residents Rick Danforth and Alec Giffen were in support of the new rules.

“But people do not have a right to decrease the value of other people’s properties,” Giffen said. “I applaud you. This is long overdue.”

Residents voted 31-23 in favor of the Budget Committee’s $189,104 proposal for general government expenditures. Selectmen recommended $200,604.

Town Manager Scott Tilton told residents he asked for additional money to pay for a full-time clerk at the Town Office.

“We are trying to rebuild our government right now. We’ve had a challenging year,” Selectman Ben Smith said. “Scott has assumed a lot of clerk duties that do not fall into the scope of manager duties. Making a part-time position into a full-time position is in the interests of the town.”

Residents also went along with the Budget Committee on an amount for the town’s capital investments and reserve accounts. Selectmen recommended raising $23,000 and the committee, $18,000.

Smith and Leotsakos said the town needs to begin to build reserve accounts so the town doesn’t get hit with a “big ticket item out of the blue.”

“We all realize we need to build this town up, but let’s take smaller steps,” said Danforth, who also serves on the Budget Committee. “All we’re suggesting is: wait a year.”

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]


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