Legal Q & A

LEGAL Q&A: Village Districts: A Commonly Misunderstood Municipal Entity

Village districts have a long history in New Hampshire. Many of village districts were created by special legislative act – i.e. the legislature passed a bill creating each of those districts and giving them certain powers – at a time before RSA chapter 52, governing village districts, was enacted.

LEGAL Q&A: The Oath of Office for Municipal Officials

This column will summarize the requirements for local officials to take an oath of office, providing guidance on the who, what, when, why and how of the oath of office in New Hampshire.

Q:  What is New Hampshire’s oath of office?

A:  As provided in RSA 42:1, every town officer must take the following oath of office prescribed in Pt. II, Article 84 of the NH Constitution:

LEGAL Q&A: Municipal Official vs Municipal Employee: What is the Difference & Does it Matter for Compensation & Personnel Policies?

At its core, the purpose of electing officials is to allow the voters to hold those they elect accountable for their actions while in office. If the voters do not like the job the elected representative is doing, they can choose to vote for someone else in the next election. If the voters are generally satisfied with the job performed, they will, presumably, reelect the incumbent.

Top COVID-19-Related Legal Inquiries

The NHMA Legal Advisory Service kicked into high gear on March 13th in response to member inquiries related to the pandemic.  In order to facilitate our response we created a new category for our legal inquiry data base, “COVID-19 coronavirus”, where we store all inquiries, telephone and email, and our responses.  Like the pandemic itself, questions from our members surged 30% in March, April, May and June and have now settled back to a more normal level.  Thanks to a gifted and dedicated team of attorneys, Natch Greyes, Cordell Johnston and Executive Director Margaret Byrnes

Recreation Programs and the ADA

Recreation programs are an important piece of the services municipalities offer.  During summer, they may include swimming programs and sports.  During the school year, there may be programs for before and after school.  In any of those cases, a municipality may have special obligations to accommodate children (and adults, for that matter) with special needs under the ADA.

 

Legal Q&A: How State Law Regulates Volunteer and On-Call Firefighters and Other Emergency Staff

This article discusses some of the statutes applicable to volunteer and on-call firefighters and emergency medical service personnel. Such persons perform the majority of this important first responder work in our municipalities, and the law has given them special protections to encourage their contributions to our collective public safety.

Q: I would like to be a firefighter in my municipality. What are the requirements?

Legal Q&A: Be Aware of Traps at Town Meeting

You've reviewed the calendar, looked at the warrant, and booked the room. Notices are ready to post, the budget is almost ready, and everyone is gearing up for what promises to be a great annual meeting. We hope that it is! However, even the most experienced local officials miss something now and then. Here are a few traps of which to beware, both golden oldies and new ones.

Legal Q and A: Building on Private Roads under RSA 674:41: When and How is it Authorized?

It's sometimes referred to as a sort of "state zoning." In any town that has a planning board with subdivision authority, RSA 674:41 prohibits building on any lot unless "the street giving access" is a Class V highway or better; is shown on a subdivision or other plan approved by the planning board; or is a Class VI highway or "private road" upon which the board of selectmen has voted to authorize building permits under certain specified conditions.

Legal Q and A: A New Option for Town Meeting: Adding the Estimated Tax Impact to the Warrant

In recent years, a lot of attention has been directed toward the amount of detail on a ballot or warrant article. The estimated tax impact of proposed appropriations, long seen as information of considerable interest to voters, may now be included under a new amendment to RSA Chapter 32, the Municipal Budget Act. Here are some of the new and continuing questions about this issue.

Q. Haven't we always been able to include explanatory information on warrant articles?

Legal Q and A: Records Compiled for Enforcement of Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations: To What Extent Are They Exempt from Disclosure?

Although law enforcement records are not included as such in the list of government records exempt from disclosure under the Right to Know Law, RSA 91-A:5, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has long recognized that certain law enforcement records may be withheld from public disclosure in accordance with the exemption for such records in the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This exemption has been important for police departments, but until now, of little interest to other municipal officials and employees.

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