Town Meeting is the most important event in the government of your town. All decisions on spending your tax dollars are made here by you along with various other rules for town operation. As a town meeting participant, you are part of the legislative branch of our government.
Town Meeting Information
About Town Meeting
There are several tables at the front of the room for various town boards and officials. They are shown in the diagram and briefly described below.
- Board of Selectmen - These five officers of the town are the executive branch of our government. They are responsible for the overall management, policy-making, and many day-to-day decisions. Most town hall employees report to them. The Town Manager and Town Counsel (town lawyer) sit with them.
- Town Clerk - The clerk maintains all town records and documents all actions and votes of the town meeting.
- Town Moderator - The moderator stands in the center at the podium and directs the progress of the meeting. Anyone wishing to speak at the meeting stands up or raises their hand and is called on by the moderator.
- Advisory Committee - This committee has spent extensive time balancing the budget, reviewing and studying all articles in the warrant. They are responsible for providing recommended action on all articles. While their recommendations should be well considered by all, you are free to vote in agreement or disagreement with them. The finance director sits with the Advisory Committee.
- School Committee - This five-member board directs all operations of the school system. The superintendent of schools sits with the school committee.
- Planning Board - This five-member board is responsible for land planning and use permitting. Most zoning regulation changes are proposed by this board. The town planner sits with the planning board.
- Community Preservation Committee - This nine-member board brings recommendations to the meeting for expending Community Preservation Act funds.
- Town and School Administration - This includes the Town Manager and Superintendent of Schools along with the Town's public safety departments.
How does the Town Meeting work?
After several introductory proceedings, most of the meeting is spent considering individual questions (articles) put before the town in the warrant, which is the booklet of articles provided to you as you checked in. In this booklet, you will find two parts for each question.
- Article - This is the numbered question and appears in regular print. Articles are submitted well in advance of town meeting and serve as the listing of all of the questions that can be considered at the meeting. Nothing can be voted at town meeting that was not provided as an advance article. However, it is important to note that votes are taken on motions, not on articles. The committee or citizens who proposed the article are listed with it. u Recommendation of the Advisory Committee - This follows each article and appears in bold print.
- Recommendation of the Advisory Committee - This follows each article and appears in bold print.
Each article is considered in order. It is read aloud by the moderator. Following the reading of the article, a motion is made, open debate and voting follows:
- Motion - This is the language of the question on which you are asked to vote. In all financial articles and many other articles, the motion is made by the chairman of the advisory committee. In this case, they will typically read their bold print recommendation in the warrant. On non-financial articles, the motion may be made by the proponent of that article.
- Debate - Open debate follows the reading of the motion. If you have anything you would like to say on the subject at hand, stand up or raise your hand. The moderator will call on you and an attendant will bring you a microphone. You always need to begin your comments by stating your name and address first.
- Amendments (Changes) - If you would like to make changes to the motion being debated, you can do so when it is your turn to speak. You state, “I move to amend the motion as follows.” You then state what you would like to add and/or delete from the motion being considered. You must provide these changes in writing following your statement.
- Vote - When all those who would like to have spoken, debate is closed and a vote is taken. The voting method varies and will be described by the moderator on each motion.
If you have any questions or comments for the moderator after the meeting, please don’t hesitate to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.