Chelsea officials have scheduled a special town meeting for Thursday for voters to reconsider raising the town’s property tax levy limit.

When voters approved spending above the town’s property tax levy limit at Chelsea’s annual Town Meeting on June 14, they failed to authorize the selectmen to spend the money they approved when they voted near the end of the meeting by secret ballot on raising the limit. Thirty-three people voted it for it and 45 voted against.

“I think when something’s confusing, people vote no,” Selectman Mike Pushard said.

State law caps the amount that municipalities are allowed to increase their spending over the current property tax commitment. The annual calculation for the property tax levy limit also factors in the state’s growth rate. “We need at least 25 people by Chelsea’s charter at the town meeting or we can’t legally decide anything,” Town Manager Scott Tilton said.

The vote to raise the property tax levy limit is by secret ballot.

“We need people to stick around and see what happens with that vote,” he said. “If they don’t vote to raise it, they’ll have to vote to reduce funding for summer roads maintenance by $8,285.”

The annual Town Meeting warrant voted on in June reflected differing recommendations from the Board of Selectmen and Chelsea’s Budget Committee on several articles.

The proposal for annual spending from the Board totaled $1,303,461, while the Budget Committee’s recommendation was $1,342,823. The board and the committee also disagreed on sources of revenue to offset that spending. The Budget Committee recommended using $25,000 for a woodlot savings account in addition to the other sources of revenue; selectmen had opted instead to propose spending less on summer road maintenance and not using the woodlot savings account.

More than 100 residents turned out for the Town Meeting, nearly three times the number of residents who have attended in recent years. A number were registering to vote as they arrived that evening.

On some articles, voters supported a higher level of spending, which put the budget over the limit that caps what can be levied in property tax without additional approval from town residents.

Many turned out to vote against a proposal to require new businesses in Chelsea to undergo a site plan review process, and they cast their vote on the tax levy limit and left before the votes were counted and before the meeting adjourned. It’s not clear they understood the reason for the vote.

The results of the vote were lost in the arguments and angry words that flared up when Selectman Benjamin Smith tried to bring up the site plan review for reconsideration at the end of the meeting; he eventually withdrew his motion.

Pushard said getting 25 people to a special town meeting might be hard; in most years, only about 35 show up to the annual Town Meeting.

“It may take a couple of tries, unfortunately,” he said. “I’ll talk to some people and ask them to show up, and this time, someone will explain it.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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