CHELSEA — The proposed budgets facing residents at the upcoming annual Town Meeting call for slight spending increases.

Resident also will have a chance to adopt a town charter at the municipal election and will pick a new selectman.

The Board of Selectmen is recommending spending about $2,000 more next year than is in this year’s $917,591 budget, and the Budget Committee recommends cutting almost $50,000 from the municipal budget.

Residents will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Chelsea Elementary School for the Town Meeting to vote on the budget and ordinance changes.

The municipal election will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the elementary school.

Town Manager Scott Tilton said the effect of the proposed budget on residents’ tax bills won’t be known until assessors send out the new property values in the next two weeks based on the recent revaluation.

Town officials are encouraging residents to vote Tuesday because a strong voter turnout is necessary to adopt the proposed charter.

State law requires at least 30 percent of the number of voters in the most recent gubernatorial election to vote for the measure in order for it to be adopted. In Chelsea’s case, that means 347 votes.

The municipal election in June 2012, which included the presidential primary, drew 335 total votes.

“We need a lot of people to get out and vote,” said Ben Smith, chairman of the Board of Selectmen and the charter commission. “Even if people are in support of it, it won’t mean anything if they don’t get out and vote.”

The proposed charter outlines the town’s governing structure and provides guidance to municipal officials on how to conduct business.

Chelsea residents voted 507–178 in November 2011 to establish a charter commission.

Town officials have said the arrest of former Selectwoman Carole Swan that February on fraud charges helped spark discussion about the need for a charter.

Tilton said he expects the most discussed item at the Town Meeting will be the proposed issuance of a $1 million bond to pay for road construction and maintenance next year.

The board recommends issuing the bond, but the Budget Committee does not.

Borrowing the money wouldn’t necessitate any payment this year, but the town is expected to face estimated annual payments of $133,646 for the next eight years if the article passes.

Tilton said the bond would allow the town to do more roads in less time to take advantage of better prices on material and labor in the spring.

The payments should be less than the amount requested annually for road maintenance each year, Tilton said.

This year the Board of Selectmen is recommending the town raise $245,380 for summer road maintenance and $187,960 for winter road maintenance. The Budget Committee is recommending $210,000 and $187,960, respectively.

In the municipal election, incumbent Selectman Michael Pushard is running unopposed for re-election.

Two other candidates are seeking the seat of Linda Leotsakos, who died last month. Leotsakos had planned to resign at the end of June for health reasons.

Rick Danforth, who was a selectmen for 16 years until he lost a re-election bid in 2009, is facing Doug Crochere, a Planning Board member.

Crochere said he sees the board as the next step from his work on the Planning Board.

“I figured I’d take a shot,” he said. “New blood is a good thing.”

Crochere said he would like to help the town and find a way to reduce the tax burden from the school budget.

Danforth has stayed involved in town politics since 2009 and was chairman of the Budget Committee.

“I just want to help them continue doing what progress they’ve made in the last couple of years,” Danforth said, “and I think I can do that with my years of experience putting together many municipal and school budgets.”

He said he would like to find ways to get more citizens involved in town decisions.

He encouraged residents to vote on the charter next week and to attend the school district budget vote at 9 a.m. Saturday at Whitefield Elementary School.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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