CHELSEA — Around 30 residents at Thursday night’s Town Meeting approved a budget that will likely lead to lower property taxes.

The $1,001,751 municipal budget approved by residents during the meeting at Chelsea Elementary School was $1,750 higher than the one recommended by the Board of Selectmen and down slightly from the current budget.

The amount that will be raised by property taxes increased by around $35,000 from the current budget’s $412,878 total, but tax rate of $17.98 per $1,000 of assessed value is expected to decrease for residents, said Town Manager Scott Tilton.

The town is expected to have a higher valuation because of new construction of natural gas pipeline and power lines, Tilton said, and its share of the county and school budgets also decreased.

The articles with the lengthiest discussions were several funding requests from community groups and organizations.

At one point, a man yelled at the moderator for allowing someone to call for a vote while sitting down, and he walked out of the meeting, throwing his town report in the air.

The select board didn’t recommend funding for five groups because they didn’t meet policy standards established by the town two years ago for groups seeking funding, including being federally registered nonprofit organizations.

Selectman Ben Smith said there aren’t assurances in place at the groups not meeting the policy requirements to ensure that taxpayer money will be property spent.

Despite not being recommended by the board, residents approved providing $1,000 for the Chelsea Food Bank contingent on if the organization meets the town’s standards by becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

They also voted to provide $250 to the Chelsea Senior Citizens group and $500 to Chelsea Youth Soccer Program, even though the select board didn’t recommend the articles.

Residents unanimously approved a road excavation ordinance.

The ordinance will prevent newly paved roads from being torn up for five years. Without the ordinance, the town doesn’t have a say on when a road can be excavated for a utility such as a natural gas line and how it will be repaved, Tilton said. The ordinance could make it more costly for a natural gas company to install pipeline along newly paved roads, but Tilton said he doesn’t expect natural gas to reach Chelsea residents for at least five years.

In the town election held Tuesday, Smith was re-elected to the board with 173 votes in an uncontested race. None of the other open positions had any candidates on the ballot, and no one received the 25 write-in votes needed to be elected.

Tilton said the select board will likely be nominating people to the empty posts at the June 28 meeting. People who are interested should contact the town office or the selectmen, he said.

The open positions are for Regional School Unit 12 School Board, Planning Board, Board of Appeals, Budget Committee and Board of Assessment.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig


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