TOWN MEETING GUIDE
Below we have listed some questions concerning the Town Meeting. The answers are brief. A more elaborate explanation can be found by consulting the applicable provisions of the Town Charter and By-Laws, as well as the General Laws of the Commonwealth or by contacting the Town Administrator or other Town officials.
WHAT IS A TOWN MEETING?
The Town Meeting is the occasion when the voters of the Town assemble to vote and act upon the various articles as contained in the warrant. At the May Annual Town Meeting Article 1 contains the operating Town budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The Town Moderator conducts the meeting.
HOW OFTEN DOES BELLINGHAM HAVE A TOWN MEETING?
There is one Annual Town Meeting held on the 4th Wednesday of May and a second Town Meeting on the 2nd Wednesday of October. Special Town Meetings may be called as needed, either by the Board of Selectmen, or upon a petition of two hundred qualified voters of the Town.
WHO MAY ATTEND TOWN MEETING?
Any person may attend a Town Meeting, but only registered voters of the Town may vote. Non voting attendees are seated in the section reserved for them, as determined by the Town Moderator.
WHAT IS A QUORUM?
Bellingham has a zero quorum.
WHAT ARE THE VOTING PROCEDURES AT TOWN MEETING?
Ordinarily, the votes are taken by a voice vote, but if the vote is close, or if more than a majority vote is required, then tellers, designated by the Town Moderator for this purpose, take a vote by a show of hands.
WHAT IS THE TOWN REPORT AND WHEN IS IT ISSUED?
The Town Report is a detailed statement of receipts and expenditures for the previous financial year, as well as other information and data as required by Chapter Four of the Town By-Laws. It is published each spring prior to the May Town Meeting.
WHAT IS A TOWN MEETING WARRANT?
The warrant is a list of budget items and/or articles proposed to be acted upon by the voters at a Town Meeting. It is posted at various locations throughout Town and is posted on the Town web site.
WHAT IS AN ARTICLE?
An article is a proposal which is to be acted upon and voted by the Town Meeting, as set forth in the warrant.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR AN ARTICLE TO BE INCLUDED IN THE WARRANT?
At an Annual Town Meeting, an article must be supported by the signatures of ten registered voters and at a Special Town Meeting by one hundred signatures, unless inserted by vote of the Board of Selectmen.
WHEN IS AN ARTICLE CONSIDERED APPROVED FOR INCLUSION IN THE WARRANT?
The Board of Selectmen either insert an article on their own motion, or in the case of a petition, refer it to the Board of Registrars to certify the signatures. Once certified, the Board of Selectmen insert the article into the warrant.
WHAT ARE THE PROCEDURES AN INDIVIDUAL GROUP OR ORGANIZATION MUST FOLLOW TO INCLUDE AN ARTICLE ON THE WARRANT?
No particular form is required, only that the necessary signatures petitioning for the article are affixed or attached to it, and of course, the article must concern a subject which the Town Meeting can lawfully consider and vote upon. In the event a citizen requires assistance in drafting an Article, they should contact the Town Administrator.
MUST THE INDIVIDUAL. GROUP, OR ORGANIZATION SUPPORT AND PRESENT THE ARTICLE AT THE TOWN MEETING?
While it is not necessary that those who petitioned for an article present it , it is desirable, since the article may be dismissed if nobody makes the motion to present said article
HOW IS A STANDARD ARTICLE WORDED?
Individuals interested in presenting an Article to Town Meeting should contact the Town Administrator or Selectmen’s Office for appropriate wording.
WHICH OF THE VARIOUS TOWN BOARDS, COMMITTEES AND/OR OFFICIALS MUST BE PRESENT AT THE TOWN MEETING?
All Boards, Committees, and officials should be present at Town Meeting; however, any person's absence will not invalidate the action taken by the voters at the meeting.
WHAT ROLE DOES THE TOWN MODERATOR PERFORM?
The Town Moderator conducts the Town Meeting and makes rulings concerning questions of procedure. She declares the results of all the votes taken at the Town Meeting.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE BOARD OF SELECTMEN RELATIVE TO TOWN MEETINGS?
The Board of Selectmen prepare the warrant for the Town Meeting, and are available at Town Meeting to explain and answer questions concerning the various articles inserted by them in the warrant.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE AT THE TOWN MEETING?
The Finance Committee reports upon and makes recommendations on the proposed annual budget and all financial articles in the warrant.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE TOWN COUNSEL AT THE TOWN MEETING?
The Town Counsel is available to answer questions concerning legal matters which may arise during the course of the Town Meeting.