Town Meeting

Recovering from Procedural Errors at Town Meeting

One of those things that will keep a municipal official or administrator awake at night is the fear of a procedural mistake during the time leading up to, during or immediately after a town meeting. Such a mistake could undo months or even years of work in preparing an important local ordinance, zoning change, collective bargaining agreement or bonded capital project for the voters. If the mistake requires going back to the voters again, there is always a possibility that the result once obtained could be reversed.

Longing for a “Normal” Town Meeting

When I was presented with the prospect of running for town moderator in 2018, one of the points in favor was that the job involves a limited time commitment. Many years earlier, I had served as a planning board member and then as a selectman, but when my day job became insanely busy and my parental obligations increased, I had decided I could no longer handle the long biweekly meetings and additional obligations that those positions required.

2021 Town and School Moderators (SB 2 Meeting) Virtual Workshop

Attendees will receive an electronic copy of NHMA's 2020-2021 edition of Town Meeting and School Meeting Handbook along with a copy of the 2021 Supplement. Additional materials such as the PowerPoint presentation will also be distributed electronically. No print outs of the materials or hard copy of the publication will be provided.

Topics include:

How to Run an Annual Meeting During a Pandemic:

A Nightmare on Main Street – Town Meeting in a Pandemic

A year ago (January/February 2019) I wrote an article for these pages titled “Diary of a First-Time Moderator.” In it I described my experience presiding at the 2019 Henniker town meeting after first being elected moderator the year before. I recounted that despite a few glitches—an “Out of Service” sign on the boys’ room door, a bottle of water spilled on my copy of the warrant—the meeting went smoothly. I ended with this paragraph:

Town and City

2020 Moderators Workshop - Traditional

SB2 Moderators Workshop Issues for Experienced Moderators. 17 page Powerpoint presentation. Presented by  Jim Belanger, Town of Hollis moderator and Stephen Buckley, Esquire, of NHMA

From Referee to Official Ballot Referendum: My Time Behind the Podium

I have been a moderator for over 25 years. I have also been a soccer referee and a softball umpire. They are not so different: There are generally two opposing sides hoping to win the day; I still need my stopwatch; and, sometimes, I even need to step in and “break it up.” And, in each case, there is a set of rules that govern, and fair play and good sportsmanship are important.

Best Practices for a Better Town Meeting

The author of this article has attended more than 60 town meetings as town counsel from 1984 to 2014. Many of those meetings were traditional town meetings; however, starting in 1996, most of those meetings were Senate Bill 2 (SB2) deliberative sessions. In addition, the author has lived in Bow since 1991 and has attended both the school district and town meeting each year since then.

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.

The Importance of the Moderator: Why Town and School Meetings Don’t “Just Happen”

For most New Hampshire voters, the annual town or school meeting is the one opportunity they have to make decisions about spending money to run the local government and schools. But the annual meeting doesn't just happen. Without the artful skills of the moderator, decisions to appropriate money, adopt or amend ordinances, or make governmental changes may have no legal effect.