New Hampshire Municipal Association
New Hampshire Municipal Association

Legal Services

The Legal Services staff includes two attorneys and one support staff. NHMA attorneys are available to answer inquiries and provide general legal assistance to elected and appointed officials from member towns, cities and village districts.

NHMA attorneys are available to answer inquiries and provide general legal assistance to elected and appointed officials from member towns, cities and village districts. NHMA’s Legal Services attorneys also write articles and publications, including Knowing the Territory: A Survey of Municipal Law for New Hampshire Local Officials; The Basic Law of Budgeting: A Guide for Towns, Village Districts and School Districts; Town Meeting and School Meeting Handbook; Guidebook for New Hampshire Elected City Officials; and other publications, as well as a variety of articles for NHMA’s New Hampshire Town and City magazine.

NHMA’s Legal Services Attorneys also write a variety of articles and publications on legal issues, including many articles for NHMA’s Town and City magazine. In addition, our attorneys provide an assortment of presentations, in-house, online, and on-demand, on a wide array of topics. Please refer to our Workshops and Webinars sections of this page for more information.

Occasionally, NHMA attorneys submit amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs to the New Hampshire Supreme Court on behalf of member municipalities. If your town/city is involved in a lawsuit that reaches the Supreme Court and includes a municipal issue of statewide significance, please let us know.

For more information, NHMA staff can be reached at 800.852.3358, ext. 3408, or by email at legalinquiries@nhmunicipal.org.

Court Update

The New Hampshire and U.S. Supreme Courts issue opinions that change, interpret, and occasionally strike down laws affecting municipalities. NHMA legal staff follows these opinions as they are issued, and summarizes them in the Court Update section of our NHMA member site. Summaries are usually posted within a few days of the release of the opinion. NHMA members are encouraged to log in regularly for new developments!

Right to Know Law

New Hampshire’s Right to Know Law, RSA Chapter 91-A, states: “Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society. The purpose of this chapter is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussion and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.” RSA 91-A:1.

The Right to Know Law affects every aspect of local government in our state. Every board, committee, commission and subcommittee in every town, city and village district in New Hampshire must comply with this law. As a result, every local official and employee should be aware of the law and what their responsibilities are regarding both public meetings and governmental records.

NHMA has a variety of resources, publications, and training opportunities available related to the Right to Know Law. To learn more, visit our Right to Know Law page.

Finance Services

The New Hampshire Municipal Association provides finance information services to assist municipal officials and staff with understanding issues related to municipal finance operations. NHMA produces publications, workshops and online courses covering a variety of topics impacting financial operations, including accounting, auditing, budgeting, financial reporting, fraud prevention and detection, financial policies, internal controls, property taxation, and state and federal regulations.

Working closely with the New Hampshire Government Finance Officers Association, NHMA’s Government Finance Advisor develops programs and resources of interest to local finance officials to assist them in understanding and successfully performing their fiduciary responsibilities.

NHMA’s Government Finance Advisor tracks pending legislation and existing regulations that impact municipal finance operations. For more information about municipal finance matters, contact the NHMA Government Finance Advisor.

Audit Guides

Regardless of the type or size of your government, there are many advantages to having a quality audit of your government’s financial statements. The timely issuance of audited financial statements enhances credibility of accounting and financial reporting functions, and helps to foster public confidence in the fiscal operations of the municipality. Additionally, findings and recommendations resulting from the audit often highlight weaknesses in internal controls and areas of risk that may require immediate attention from management and those charged with governance. The following links provide access to information regarding procuring audit services as well as understanding and managing the audit process.

Audit Resources - Recommended Practices and Publications

Visit the Government Finance Officers Association website for additional audit resource publications.

Audit Regulations - Federal Regulations

Sample Documents (Microsoft Word format)

Related Articles

Financial Policies

The adoption of financial policies provides a number of benefits to municipalities large and small. The adoption of financial policies helps to provide consistency, stability, and continuity in the financial operations of the town. Written policies provide a framework to guide and educate both newly elected officials in carrying out their fiduciary responsibilities and newly appointed staff in the conduct of their financial duties. The ability to rely on well-defined financial policies helps to resolve conflicts and avoid allegations of bias or favoritism. Additionally, the adoption of financial policies is just a good, sound business practice that fosters confidence in the fiscal operations of the municipality.

The NHMA’s publication, Basic Financial Policies: A Guide for New Hampshire Cities and Towns, provides detailed explanations of the basic financial policies that municipalities should consider adopting. The guide includes a CD containing example policies, an internal control checklist, and other information helpful in formulating comprehensive financial policies.

NHMA has a variety of Financial Resources available here.

Workshops

NHMA understands the value of efficient and effective local government. Well-educated officials and staff play a key role in the betterment of local government. With NHMA membership in mind, a wide variety of training opportunities have been developed to meet the ever changing educational needs of municipal officials and employees. NHMA welcomes feedback so please feel free to contact us with suggestions for future training ideas.

Budget and Finance Workshop

NHMA’s annual Budget and Finance workshop is offered at two locations in late September and is one of our most popular training opportunities. In addition to a thorough overview of the Municipal Budget Law, this full-day workshop provides an update on recent legislative changes impacting local budgets along with other topics of interest and importance to municipal and school officials. Ample time is devoted to questions and answers.

The Budget and Finance workshop is designed for selectmen, budget committee members, town managers and administrators, finance staff and other officials involved in the town or school budget process. Participants will receive the latest edition of NHMA’s The Basic Law of Budgeting: A Guide for Towns, Village Districts and School Districts.

Fundamentals of Local Welfare Workshop

The Fundamentals of Local Welfare workshop is an informative session for municipal officials new to local welfare administration. Members of the New Hampshire Municipal Association and members of the New Hampshire Local Welfare Administrators Association are welcome to attend. Attendees will receive a copy of NHMA’s 2013 edition The Art of Welfare Administration.

This workshop provides a basic overview of New Hampshire law governing local welfare administration, including why guidelines are important, how assistance is provided, anticipated legislative changes, fair hearings, suspension of assistance, and more. There will also be a panel to answer questions, share practical tips, and provide guidance in the “art” of managing a sound welfare program.

Elected City Officials Workshop

The Elected City Officials Workshop is offered every two years in February to provide training for city councilors and other elected city officials. Presented by New Hampshire Municipal Association staff, the half-day session covers an array of topics of importance to city officials, including the Right to Know Law, the New Hampshire Retirement System and other legislative issues. Attendees receive a complimentary copy of NHMA’s Guidebook for New Hampshire Elected City Officials.

Local Officials Workshop

Faced with ever-changing laws and regulations, budget constraints, employment issues and a variety of other demands related to municipal government, local officials need to continually reinforce their knowledge base. Presented by New Hampshire Municipal Association’s Legal Services Attorneys, the Local Officials Workshops provide newly elected and experienced local officials with the information required to effectively serve their communities.

Attendees will receive the latest edition of Knowing the Territory: A Survey of Municipal Law for New Hampshire Local Officials, revised annually to reflect the latest statutory changes and Supreme Court decisions. Local Officials Workshops are traditionally offered in various locations throughout the state.

Moderators Workshop

Moderators play a vital role in the conduct of town meetings and the local election process. In the weeks preceding town meeting season, NHMA and the New Hampshire School Boards Association jointly host the annual Moderators Workshop to support individuals serving their communities as town, village district and school district moderators.

The Moderators Workshop provides an overview of the Basic Law of Town, Village District and School District Meeting, including the statutes governing the moderator’s duties at town and district meetings and issues related to warrant articles, secret ballot voting, official ballot referendum (SB 2) meetings and other town meeting issues. This topic is offered in two concurrent sessions tailored for new and experienced moderators, and ample time is devoted to questions and answers. Attendees receive the latest edition of NHMA’s Town Meeting and School Meeting Handbook.

This half-day workshop provides valuable information for town, village district and school district moderators. Town clerks, selectmen and other town officials will also find this session informative.

The Moderators Workshop is offered on two dates tailored for SB 2 and Traditional Town Meeting to provide moderators with guidance relevant to the structure and rules of their form of meeting. (Please note that the budget process is not a focus of this workshop. The topic is covered in detail at the annual fall Budget and Finance Workshop.)

2014 Moderators Workshop Information

Municipal Law Lecture Series

The Municipal Law Lecture Series consists of three land use lectures held during September and October in various locations throughout the state. These lectures are intended for municipal officials with an interest in, or responsibility for, any aspect of municipal land use, including members of planning boards, zoning boards and conservation commissions, as well as selectmen, councilors, planners, building inspectors and code officers. Lecture participants receive a complimentary copy of the accompanying publication.

Right to Know Workshop

New Hampshire’s Right to Know Law, RSA Chapter 91-A, affects every aspect of local government in our state. Every board, committee, commission and subcommittee in every town, city, village district and school district in New Hampshire must comply with this law.

NHMA’s Right to Know workshop reviews specific responsibilities relating to public meetings and governmental records. Ample time is devoted to participant questions and discussion of scenarios. This workshop is designed for municipal officials, staff and board members and is available for NHMA members. Attendees receive a helpful packet of materials to provide guidance with understanding and complying with this important legal obligation.

Webinars

NHMA members are invited to join NHMA staff for our monthly webinar training series. NHMA webinars provide live online training including the ability to ask questions for an interactive learning experience. Webinars include a variety of timely topics accessible from the comfort of your own office.

Upcoming Webinars

On-Demand Training

NHMA attorneys are available to travel upon request to NHMA member municipalities for on-demand training sessions. Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Municipal Authority to Act and Preemption
  • The Selectmen’s Role with other Elected and Appointed Officials
  • Trusts and Trustees (cemetery and trustees of trust funds)
  • Effective Communication and Action with Library Trustees/Library Trustee Law
  • The Selectmen’s Role with Public Safety and Emergency Management
  • Right to Know Law
  • How to Hold an Effective Meeting and Work as a Board
  • Budget Law
  • Welfare Basics
  • The Charter Process
  • Conflicts of Interest and Ethics for Local Officials
  • What Do Selectmen Do?
  • Road Law
  • Planning Board and/or ZBA basics (roles and procedures)
  • The Tax Deeding Process

Each presentation is approximately 2 hours in length. There is a $475.00 fee regardless of the number of attendees. (Member municipalities paying annual dues in excess of $15,000 are entitled to one free on-demand presentation per calendar year; subsequent presentations are subject to the $475.00 fee.) The municipality requesting a presentation will be billed and is responsible to NHMA for full payment. However, we encourage the requesting municipality to invite officials and employees from surrounding NHMA-member municipalities and to negotiate a cost-sharing arrangement with those other municipalities.

To request a presentation, please send an email to legalinquiries@nhmunicipal.org. Please specify your municipality, the subject, and the general dates and time you desire for the presentation. Presentations may be during the day or in the evening, but specific dates are subject to NHMA staff availability. It is also helpful to provide additional information about the intended audience and specific areas of concern so we can better prepare our presentation to meet your expectations.

NHMA Annual Conference

NHMA's Annual Conference is New Hampshire’s premiere conference for municipal and school officials. The 2012 event drew more than 550 New Hampshire local government officials, 110 speakers and 130 exhibitors and sponsors. Mark your calendar for the 72nd NHMA Annual Conference scheduled for November 6-7, 2013 at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH. We hope to see you then!

2013 NHMA Annual Conference Site >>

Association Management

The Association Management Services Program provides administrative, event management and financial services to NHMA affiliate groups. The program is designed to support our affiliate groups in their efforts to run strong organizations, freeing more of their time to focus on advancing their organizational mission. Across the country, state municipal leagues—like the New Hampshire Municipal Association—foster close relationships with their own affiliate organizations.

Who Can Participate?

Any organized group of local government professionals that is recognized by NHMA as an affiliate group may be eligible to participate in the Association Management Services Program. These services are provided through existing in-house resources and are available at the discretion of NHMA. Affiliate groups participating in the Association Management Services Program sign an agreement outlining commitment of both the group and NHMA. Groups participating in the program reimburse NHMA for direct costs such as postage and out-of-house printing. For a complete list of service offerings, view our Services Overview.

For more information about the Association Management Service Program or to determine if your group may be eligible, please contact NHMA staff.