CHELSEA — Forty-three voters approved all Town Meeting articles as written Thursday night, passing three ordinance changes and a $1.5 million spending plan.

But one article had a typographical error as written, so town officials were shaking their heads over a mistake in the warrant that led to $11,626 not being raised in the budget.

The typo in the warrant was in Article 8, which read, “to see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate not more than $229,660 for General Government.” The figure is a typo, which Town Manager Scott Tilton said was copied from the current fiscal year’s appropriation for General Government expenditures, which include salaries for government workers, election costs, maintenance to the Town Office and auditing.

The figure that should have appeared in the article was $241,286, which townspeople tried to amend it to, according to Tilton. Because the article uses the words “not more than,” the figure could only be adjusted downward.

After the meeting, Selectman Mike Pushard said town officials should have caught the error, but he was confident the town could cover the loss in funds fairly easily and would not feel the effects until April or May of next fiscal year. Tilton said the town’s Selectboard will discuss how to cover the gap at its June 27 meeting.

“Considerations will include salary freezes, deferred building maintenance,” Tilton said. “Everything is on the table.”

Voters also authorized the town to spend $18,602 enter an agreement with Affinity LED to convert the town’s streetlights to LED lights. According to the warrant, converting to LED lights could save the town $6,400 annually over traditional streetlights.

Voters approved a change the town’s minimum lot size that allows more residential units on smaller properties. Previously, the minimum lot size for any residential dwelling unit was 2 acres. With the new change, the minimum stays at 2 acres, but each additional unit on a lot requires an additional half-acre. This means a duplex could sit on 2.5 acres rather than 4.

Voters OK’d changes to the Floodplain Management Ordinance to line the town up with state regulations and a Vehicle Excise Tax Exemption Ordinance designed to exempt those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces outside of the state or deployed for military services but still wishing to register their cars in Chelsea.

Voters also decided to allocate $26,066 for bus service that takes high school students from home to Chelsea Elementary School — the point where they are picked up by buses to take them to their school of choice in the morning and dropped off after school is out. The town’s Budget Committee recommended cutting this service, which would have forced the students to find another way there, but a clear majority of voters passed the article.

All told, the municipal spending plan totals $1,500,172, which is 11 percent more than last year’s budget. Before the meeting, Tilton said it was difficult to predict the property tax rate, but he estimated it could increase to “at least” $20.45 per $1,000 worth of assessed property value. He said the Selectboard will choose a tax rate after it decides how much surplus funding will carry into next year and how much overlay funding to work into the budget.

Municipal revenue, including state revenue sharing and $150,000 in surplus funding being carried forward from the current fiscal year, will increase 4.5% from $753,650 last fiscal year to $787,888. The revenue increase is stimulated by an additional $50,000 in estimated excise tax revenue and small increases anticipated in building permit revenue and tax lien costs.

On Tuesday, voters in Chelsea rejected the Regional School Unit 12 budget, but it was passed when all seven town’s voters were combined. Chelsea’s local share — spurred by sizable student increase — has increased $137,435 over last fiscal year, from $2,340,401 to $2,477,836.


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