Olson v. Town of Grafton

Supreme Court Confirms Select Board can Recommend Non-Money Articles
New Hampshire Supreme Court, No. 2015-0264
Friday, February 12, 2016

Last year, we reported that a superior court judge had determined that a select board did have the authority to put recommendations and non-recommendations on non-money articles. In this decision, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire confirmed that decision.

The underlying dispute arose out of the Grafton Select Board’s inclusion of non-recommendations on several petitioned warrant articles that did not include appropriations. The petitioners brought a lawsuit in superior court alleging that, under RSA 32:5, the select board had authority to place recommendations on money articles, not other articles. The superior court disagreed and issued an order for the Town.

First, the New Hampshire Supreme Court determined that the recommendations did not amount to textual changes of the petitioned articles, so there was no violation of RSA 39:3, which allows the select board to make only minor textual changes to such articles. Second, the Court determined that the language in RSA 32:5, V-a regarding recommendations on “any warrant articles” was also meant to apply to non-money articles. The Court reached this decision by first determining that the language of the statute was ambiguous, and then looking to the legislative history to support its conclusion.

Learn More in Court Decision.