Chelsea to ‘Level Out’ Tax Rate

Valley News Correspondent
Monday, February 26, 2018

Chelsea’s School District meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6, with Town Meeting to follow. Both take place at Chelsea Town Hall. Voting is from the floor. The First Branch Unified District, encompassing Chelsea and Tunbridge, will hold a special meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, at the Chelsea Public School.

Chelsea — Chelsea traditionally holds its School District meeting immediately before its Town Meeting. This year, however, attendees won’t have to wait long for the Town Meeting to get underway.

With the recent formation of the First Branch Unified District, Chelsea and Tunbridge will vote on their joint school budget via Australian ballot later in the spring. On Town Meeting Day, however, Chelsea residents will continue their tradition of voting from the floor.

Up for consideration? Thirteen articles, including a town budget a shade over $1.24 million, which is about $57,000 more than last year.

Of that $1.24 million, 52 percent will fund the highway department, with the remainder covering the town’s general expenses. Roughly $803,000 is slated to be raised through taxes, $81,246 more than in 2017, when the town was able to use about $112,000 in budget surplus to ease the tax impact.

Selectboard Chair Joan Goodrich said officials want to “level out” the tax rate, such that it doesn’t produce “big highs and lows.”

About 35 percent of Chelsea’s proposed budget would be funded by “non-tax revenues,” including state and federal grant money. Incorporated into the budget is $30,000 the town expects to receive from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help it recover from flooding it suffered in July. Goodrich expects the eventual FEMA payout to be greater, but said “we didn’t want to go over and then not have enough money.”

The town also secured a pair of state Better Backroads grants, which it intends to use to inventory and improve its roads and ditches. Goodrich credits first-year Town Administrator Maggie Kerrin with landing those grants, as well as with streamlining the town’s government more generally.

“A lot of things have been done and brought to our attention that wouldn’t have been without her,” Goodrich said. Among them: bringing Chelsea into compliance with various state laws. “It was money well-spent by the town.”

Article 5 of the warning proposes doing away with the town’s auditors, in favor of contracting with an outside accountant. While hiring a CPA this year cost $7,500, more than double the $3,000 the town pays its auditors, Goodrich said it yielded a better understanding of the town’s finances.

Article 7 of the warning calls for tax-funded appropriations to 20 local groups, from the Central Vermont Council on Aging to Safeline, a domestic violence support center. The sum of $20,518 is comparable to last year’s total of $20,090.

Town Meeting will also produce a class of new Selectboard members. Goodrich intends to run for the one-year seat, and said fellow board member Greg Kotyk would be running for the three-year seat.

A two-year seat is also up for grabs, but has garnered little interest so far. Will someone throw their hat in the ring on March 6?

“I hope so,” Goodrich said, laughing. “We need a five-member board.”

Gabe Brison-Trezise can be reached at g.brisontrezise@gmail.com.


The amount to be raised in taxes to support Chelsea's proposed 2018 municipal budget is $802,697, an increase of $81,246, according to Chelsea Selectboard Chair Joan Goodrich. An earlier version of this story understated the amount of the increase.