CHELSEA — A little more than 30 residents approved the town’s proposed $1.1 million budget for next year at Thursday’s Town Meeting, including borrowing $280,000 to buy a new tanker truck for the Fire Department.

The budget approved at the hourlong meeting at Chelsea Elementary School is about $100,000, or more than 10 percent, larger than the current budget. Town Manager Scott Tilton has estimated that the budget will add about 50 cents to the property tax rate of $17.20 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Most articles were approved unanimously and without discussions or questions, but a few people voted against buying the fire tanker. A member of the Budget Committee, which recommended against buying the truck, encouraged residents instead to dedicate money to buy the truck in the future when the town absolutely needs it.

Selectman Ben Smith said the town had looked into other options, such as replacing the tank on the current truck, but it wasn’t clear if that would end up helping the truck last longer. The town has a Fire Department with active members, he said, and he wants them to be able to do their jobs.

“We can’t any longer extend the lifetime of the vehicle,” Smith said.

A member of the department said the truck’s tank was built nearly 30 years ago and was expected to last only 15 to 20 years.


The tanker, which hauls water to fires in Chelsea and mutual-aid communities, is leaking and unreliable, Town Manager Scott Tilton said.

The overall debt that will be incurred is expected to be about $313,500, including interest, and would require annual payments of $40,000 for eight years. The town also will be using funds from its tax-increment financing district set up to collect tax revenue from natural gas pipelines in the town.

The Town Meeting hit a snag early on when officials realized the amount in the article for general government spending was actually the amount approved last year, not the amount recommended by the Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee, written just below the article.

The article proposed raising $181,750, even though the town boards recommended $191,085.

Because of the rules followed by the Town Meeting, residents couldn’t increase it to an amount higher than what was written on the warrant article. So instead, residents amended a previous article to send a similar amount from the wood lot account to general government spending.

In the town election Tuesday, residents elected the three candidates running for open positions, all unopposed. Selectman Richard Danforth was re-elected, Paula Hutton was re-elected to one of three open seats on the Budget Committee and Zachary Freeman was elected to one of two open seats on the school board.


The Selectboard will appoint people to serve on the other 14 open seats that drew no candidates.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @pdkoenig

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.