CHELSEA — The Board of Selectmen will hear about the town’s financial health from an auditor Wednesday night.

Besides the audit report, the board will consider supporting a joint grant with the Augusta Fire Department for a new tanker, selling its cell tower lease contract, extending the plowing contract with McGee Construction and adopting a policy for mailbox construction.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at Chelsea Elementary School.

Town Manager Scott Tilton said the audit, which will be presented by Ron Smith of RHR Smith & Co., shows the town is in good financial shape.

The town’s fund balance is now up to about $487,000, Tilton said, an increase of about $100,000 from the year before and up significantly from the roughly $75,000 balance when Tilton arrived in 2011.

The gains in the undesignated fund balance, which the town used this year to help ease the tax burden, is a result of revenues being higher than expected and expenses coming in under budget, Tilton said.

“Those two things generally make for a positive fund balance,” he said. “Before, what happened, I think, is the town was probably spending more than it was taking in.”

The board will be asked to support a joint grant between the Chelsea and Augusta fire departments to buy a replacement tanker for the town. Augusta uses the town’s 24-year-old fire tanker, which has a leak, for bringing water to scenes outside the city’s hydrant district.

The town has issued a request for proposals to replace the tank and use the existing chassis, but the federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant would allow the town to buy a replacement tanker, Tilton said.

If awarded the grant, the town would have to pay for 10 percent of the possible $285,000 to $300,000 price tag, Tilton said. Augusta is helping to write the grant, but Chelsea would pay the 10 percent for the tanker and own it.

The board will also consider selling its cell phone tower lease to Unison, a New York-based cell site management company, for $110,000. Tilton said there are 20 years left of the 30-year lease the town has with U.S. Cellular for the tower on Route 17. The town is paid $710 a month as part of the lease, Tilton said.

He said the decision may end up going to a townwide vote.

The board will discuss extending the winter maintenance contract with McGee Construction for another year. The West Gardiner-based company is in the third year of its contract, and the extension being considered would raise the annual cost for the town from $135,000 to $140,000, Tilton said.

In a related issue, the select board will consider adopting a policy for mailboxes on the side of roads in town. Tilton said he’s proposing the town adopt a policy recommended by the Maine Department of Transportation that sets standards for mailbox design and construction.

The point would be to prevent mailboxes from being destroyed or damaged by snow plows. The plowing company must pay to replace the mailboxes, Tilton said, which can total 12 to 15 a year. The policy could be used to determine whether the contractor must pay for replacements.

The select board will also discuss:

•adding Davenport and Littlefield cemeteries to the summer grounds maintenance plan;

•whether to support a Community Development Block Grant proposal from Volunteers of America Northern New England to build affordable senior housing near the VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus campus;

•2013 Board of Selectmen goals.

Paul Koenig — 207-621-5663 [email protected] Twitter: @paul_koenig

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