Chelsea Approves Road Money, OKs School District Budget
Wearing home-made Girl Scout Cookie Costumes, Blake Allen, 5, left, and Cadyn Jarvis, 6, both Daisies, prepare to greet a Chelsea resident during the Chelsea Town Meeting at the Chelsea Town Hall in Chelsea, Vt., on March 4, 2014. Also pictured is Jarvis' mother, Emmy Jarvis, who is a Girl Scout leader. (Valley News- Sarah Priestap)
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Several empty chairs stand out at the beginning of the Chelsea Town Meeting at the Chelsea Town Hall in Chelsea, Vt., on March 4, 2014. Most of the seats were filled within the hour. (Valley News- Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Vermont State Senator Mark MacDonald, left, speaks to Moderator Bill Field during voting at the Chelsea Town Meeting at the Chelsea Town Hall in Chelsea, Vt., on March 4, 2014. (Valley News- Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Chelsea — Two new members were elected to the Chelsea School Board and the $3.3 million school district budget passed in less than an hour on Tuesday.
Jessie Schmidt was chosen over Tara Weatherell to serve a three-year term on the School Board. Moments later, however, voters nominated Weatherell to fill a two-year term on the same board.
Schmidt has three children enrolled in Chelsea Public School. Before the vote, she said she “sees the school as an opportunity for children to realize their potential.”
Weatherell, the mother of a toddler, said she looks forward to the time when her child will attend the school. She has served as secretary of the School Board for four years and, she said, the experience has allowed her to become familiar with the workings of the board and prepare her to assume her new position.
Chelsea native Mike Kuban garnered 94 ballots to Cynthia Masterman’s 18 to become the town’s newest Selectboard member. Kuban was immediately sworn in by Town Clerk Karen Lathrop. Following a round of applause from the 100 or so people in attendance, Kuban took his seat with the other Selectboard members sitting in a row of chairs at the front of Town Hall and Moderator Bill Field guided the meeting into the question of how much money ought to be spent on maintaining the town’s roads.
In a year when Chelsea’s 20-year odyssey to purchase land and begin construction on a new town garage appears to be coming to an end, the only warning articles that inspired much debate concerned the paving and resurfacing of roads.
Article 8 asked voters to approve an appropriation of $30,000 toward what Selectman Michael Button referred to as a “kick-starter” fund to create a pool of money that can be used specifically for paving and resurfacing as a distinct expense separate from the rest of the town highway budget. Article 10 further asked voters to allow the Selectboard to apply more than $35,000 of surplus highway funds from the 2013 fiscal year to the newly approved paving/resurfacing fund. Both passed.
No one in attendance was opposed to moving nearly $73,000 in the long-dormant timber harvest fund to the garage fund as set forth in Article 14. Voters last year gave the town permission to buy land for the new garage. Questioned about the estimated total cost of the new town garage, Button said the Selectboard’s best estimate on a 100-by-70 foot metal structure currently stood at $1.1 million.
“No one is happy about that figure,” Button said.
But of prime importance to the Selectboard, he said, is that the town build a garage that is large enough to provide indoor shelter for all of Chelsea’s road equipment. Button cited instances where highway vehicles that are housed outdoors fail to start properly due to a combination of cold weather and an inability by road crew workers to keep salt washed off the vehicles.
When the equipment is needed, Button said, “We want to turn the key, open the door and go.”
During discussion about the proposed town garage, Frank Keene presented the Selectboard with a detailed drawing he had created of a smaller town garage that measured 100 by 60 feet.
“I measured all of the town’s (current) equipment,” Keene said, and made allowances in his drawing for office space, rest rooms and for space to walk around and work on the equipment. Keene’s presentation was met with applause.
In the final business of the day, voters approved by voice vote allowing the Selectboard to raise $552,271 in taxes to pay current expenses and indebtedness for the 2014 fiscal year.