Annual Membership Report
The information contained in this article is not intended as legal advice and may no longer be accurate due to changes in the law. Consult NHMA's legal services or your municipal attorney.
I am writing this article on the day before Thanksgiving, and I have much to be thankful for in 2017. I am thankful for the wonderful support NHMA has enjoyed over the year from our members, associate members, and local officials. I am thankful for the hardworking, committed, and resourceful staff who work at NHMA and support NHMA’s mission to serve its members. And having just held the 76th NHMA Annual Conference, I am thankful for the continued support from our sponsors and exhibitors, virtually all of whom said it was a great conference—that’s an assessment I share!
We launched two new initiatives in 2017. First, NHMA partnered with the Drummond Woodsum law firm, which houses employment law experts Mark Broth and Anna Cole. Together, we reconstituted the Employment Law Hotline, through which any municipal member of NHMA can seek a complimentary consultation on employment matters. Employment matters can often be sticky, and we are thrilled to augment the benefits of NHMA membership with this valuable hotline service.
The second new initiative in 2017 was the production of A Guide to Open Government: New Hampshire’s Right-to-Know Law. The Right-to-Know Law is one of the most frequent topics of inquiries received by staff and we had made it a part of virtually every workshop we presented. It only made sense to compile all the information in one place, including appendices containing checklists and special issues. This new guidebook formed the basis for three workshops entirely on the Right-to-Know Law, which led to some special training on the Right-to-Know Law as it applies to law enforcement.
NHMA had a very full workshop and training schedule in 2017, with some new offerings added to the mix. We held all the traditional workshops: two Town and School Moderators (Traditional and SB2), six Local Officials Workshops, Local Welfare Workshop, two Budget and Finance Management Workshops, and the Municipal Law Lecture Series. We tried something different with the Law Lectures—holding two all-day sessions with three lectures on each day. We received some feedback that the format didn’t work for a number of people—so we will return to at least one set of evening lectures! Thank you for telling us!
Along with the traditional NHMA workshops, we added several new ones, including an Employment Law Workshop, presented by Attorney Broth and Attorney Cole from Drummond Woodsum. Attorneys Cole and Broth also presented six mini-workshops around the state on Effective Approaches to Employee Discipline.
In partnership with the NH Municipal Lawyers Association, we presented a Municipal Liability and Immunity Workshop, featuring state law topics from New Hampshire practitioners, and a federal law review from a D.C. attorney from the International Municipal Lawyers Association.
Also new was a LEAN White Belt Workshop, presented in conjunction with the New Hampshire Bureau of Education and Training. We also presented two workshops on The Intersection of Land Use and Road Law—a new workshop using the 2015 update to the Hard Road to Travel Handbook.
In 2017, we added a new staff member. Judith Pellowe joined NHMA in early February as our new Business Administrator, and what a pleasure it has been to have all of our financial services performed in-house! Having that information at our fingertips has made NHMA much more nimble and efficient, and Judith is working to streamline our operations to reflect our new capabilities.
NHMA now has a staff of 10, who provide an incredible array of services to local government. In addition to our workshops and publications, in 2017, we:
- Expanded our Association Management Services program by adding several new affiliate groups, with more discussions in the works. We offer workshop planning, financial management, membership recordkeeping, etc.
- Presented over 30 On Demand seminars—a significant increase from the year before. These are workshops that staff present in the field, to employees and officials from a single town or from neighboring municipalities, on specific topics, making it easy for local officials to attend training and ask questions in a small group setting.
- We produced 13 webinars, attended by nearly 600 people from 111-member municipalities, on subjects from legislative updates and the Right-to-Know Law to Municipal Volunteers, Best Practices for Background Checks, Current Use Assessing, and Conflicts of Interest. Surely something for everyone! We have also started partnering with others in the presentation of webinars to expand the availability of training through this convenient method.
- We answered over 2,916 legal inquiries, either by phone or email, covering such topics as the authority of selectmen, planning board questions, the Right-to-Know Law, unanticipated revenue, roads and driveways, and much more.
- It was a state budget year in the Legislature, and we followed that closely for any changes in state aid programs, as well as over 250 other bills of municipal interest. Please see the Final Legislative Bulletin for a full summary of those bills.
- Finally, staff members were in high demand, speaking before a wide variety of groups who also serve municipal officials: Waste Water Treatment Operators training at the Department of Environmental Services, the NH City and Town Clerks Association, several Regional Planning Commissions, the NH School Boards Association, the NH Government Finance Officers Association, the Library Trustees Association, UNH’s Technology Transfer Center (T2), the Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association (NNECAPA), and the Office of Energy and Planning (now the Office of Strategic Initiatives) spring land use conference.
All of us at NHMA believe in local government and believe in local officials. We know it is not an easy job, and that you are on the front lines on many difficult issues. We are here to support you, so please let us know what you need, and we’ll do our best to provide it. For those of you in town government, we wish you a successful town meeting season, and we look forward to seeing all of you at some point in 2018.
Judy A. Silva is Executive Director of the New Hampshire Municipal Association. She can be reached at 603.224.7447 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.