CHELSEA — Nearly 40 Chelsea residents passed the $2 million municipal budget Thursday night at the annual Town Meeting with minor adjustments to the articles and passed updated solar and Planning Board ordinances.

Voters approved the $2,096,419 budget, which is an increase of $155,822, or around an 8% increase at the municipal level from last year’s budget. The town revenue is expected to come in at $1,600,108.

The Town Meeting was held at Chelsea Elementary School and voters grouped the 52 warrant articles together to speed up the meeting so it lasted about an hour.

Residents offered little to no discussion on the warrant articles besides asking for an explanation of the two ordinances that were on the town warrant and changing the unpaid tax rate from 8% to 5% on article 41 for any late 2023-24 taxes. With 8% as the highest amount the tax rate could be, residents changed it to 5% to match what the rate was last year.

The solar ordinance was placed on a moratorium so the town attorney and Selectboard could discuss the ordinance further. Voters also decided to add extra precautions for the three solar farms permitted in Chelsea. Because of the Central Maine Power grid, only three solar farms are allowed in the town. The Planning Board ordinance updated the language without much change to the actual policy itself besides changing the term from five to three years and requiring board members to attend 75% of meetings.

Before the annual Town Meeting, residents voted by secret ballot Tuesday for the Regional School Unit 12 school budget and the open positions in town. The town passed the $26,400,098 school budget by secret ballot Tuesday night in a vote of 153 to 56. The school budget will require Chelsea to raise $2,815,870, a 5.7% increase for the town’s portion of the budget.


On Tuesday, Jacob Soucy was elected to the Selectboard in a 126-88 vote against incumbent Sherri Truman.

Chelsea voters had the chance to fill two positions on the Planning Board, one on the RSU 12 board of directors, two on the appeals board, three on the board of assessor and two on the budget committee, but none of the positions gained the minimum of 25 votes per person for it to count. Town officials are expected to instead temporarily appoint people to the positions.

One resident asked about the increase in Article 10, for the Contracted Labor Services, to which Town Manager Christine Landes explained the increase from last year’s budgeted amount of $3,830 to this year’s proposed amount of $16,400 was due to contracted services to clean the office and for a comprehensive plan for the town.

The municipal budget’s few substantial changes are in the areas of winter and summer road maintenance. In the winter road section of the budget, the proposed cost for next fiscal year is down by $51,620 for a “decrease in contracted plowing costs,” and comes to a total of $252,200. In the summer roads section of the budget, the category is up by $35,800 due to a “proposed increase in general road maintenance and an increase in grade gravel.” The total proposed cost in the summer road portion of the budget is $676,500.

The Code Enforcement portion of the budget jumped from $26,860 last year to a proposed $78,576. The increase accounts for wages for the regular and alternate code enforcement officer, supplies, legal costs and mileage. It also allows for the code enforcement officer to switch to a salary as full-time instead of part-time.

The Selectboard and Budget Committee used $35,000 in carry-over funds to offset the public safety cost. The proposed amount for next year was over last year’s budgeted amount by $5,638 due to an increase in dispatch costs. By using the $35,000 in carry-over funds, the proposed amount for next year for public safety is $31,673, cutting the amount the town will pay this year nearly in half. The budgeted amount for last year in public safety was $61,035.

Also at the meeting, Dot and Scott Grady were awarded the Spirit of America award for their dedication to the town of Chelsea.

Truman, the outgoing member of the Chelsea Selectboard, introduced the couple and said Scott Grady takes the time to deliver salt and sand to people’s houses if they need it and pledged a large amount of his time over the years to the various service roles in town such as the Planning Board. Dot Grady was applauded for her work with “Age Friendly in Chelsea” and efforts she has brought to the town through the national community service program AmeriCorps, among other activities for the town. Together, they owned the now-closed Chelsea Market.

“They were supposed to retire,” Truman said, “but I think they are more busy now.”

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