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About the City of Chelsea


The City of Chelsea, Massachusetts is located in Suffolk County directly across the Mystic River from the City of Boston. The City was first settled in 1624, established itself as a Town in 1739 and was incorporated as a City in 1857. The City has an estimated population of 35,080 and occupies a land area of 1.8 square miles.

The City provides general governmental services for the territory within its boundaries, including police and fire protection, trash collection and disposal, public education (pre-kindergarten through grade twelve), water and sewer services, parks and recreation, health and social services, libraries/culture and maintenance of streets and highways. The principal services provided by Suffolk County are space for courts, a jail, a house of correction, and a registry of deeds. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority provides commuter rail service and bus coverage throughout the City with connections to the metropolitan Boston area. The Metropolitan District Commission maintains certain parks and highways. The Massachusetts Water Resource Authority provides water and sewerage disposal services to the City.

In August of 1995, the City implemented a new City Charter (the Charter), which vested policy and legislative authority in an eleven member City Council and placed strong executive and administrative powers in an appointed City Manager. The implementation of the new Charter followed four years after a State-appointed Receiver with broad administrative, fiscal and political authority administered the affairs of the City.


On June 21, 1994, the residents of the City, by a margin of 3:2, approved a non-binding referendum that directed the state appointed receiver to submit to the Massachusetts Legislature a new Charter. Submitted by the Receiver to the Massachusetts Legislature in late June 1994, the Charter was approved by the Massachusetts House and the Senate on August 22, 1994, and signed by the Governor on August 26, 1994. The Charter was fully implemented on August 18, 1995, with appointment of the first City Manager.

The Charter mandated the Council-Manager form of government, which replaced the Mayor-Alderman form of government. The voters of Chelsea continue to elect the policy makers in the form of a City Council (the Council) who in turn select the City Manager. The City Manager is the chief executive of the City and is responsible for the day-to-day administration of City affairs.

The Charter requires the implementation of a coordinated budget process. The Council and School Committee share responsibility and coordinate their activities. In addition, the Charter requires the City to implement and undertake annual processes for capital planning, long-term financial forecasting and an open operating budget development process. The City has successfully implemented all the financial mandates required by the Charter.

As a result of the open and participatory process, which was utilized to draft the new Charter, the citizens of Chelsea have been provided with broad rights to influence the workings of City government. The Charter includes an initiative petition procedure that allows citizens to recommend the adoption of local laws which, if not enacted by the City Council or the School Committee, would appear on the ballot for approval or rejection by all of the voters. Measures passed by the Council, with some specific exceptions, are subject to the referendum process. Recall of elected officials who have earned the dissatisfaction of a majority of citizens is provided. In addition, the Charter provides that any citizen convicted of a felony related to performance in office may not serve the City in any official capacity. The right of free petition provides access to the Council for any resident or group of residents to voice their concerns.

The successful implementation and continued vigilance in adhering to the Charter during the six year of the post Receivership period has been one of the most significant factors contributing to the turnaround in the City of Chelsea.