Town Meeting Guidelines

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Town Meeting is the legislative branch of local government in Massachusetts. It has the two basic powers of a legislature, the power to adopt laws (general and zoning bylaws), and the power to appropriate money.

Westwood is governed by Open Town Meeting. The essential feature of open town meeting government which sets it apart from all other forms of local government is that all registered voters of the town are entitled to vote on all issues which are presented at town meeting. In the early years of town meeting government, attendance was mandatory and fines were levied for non attendance. Today attendance at an open town meeting is a matter of the voter’s personal decision. Open town meeting is the oldest existing form of direct popular government having continuously served its citizens for some 350 years.

Per town bylaws, Town Meeting is always held on the first Monday in May. Every town meeting shall be called in pursuance of a warrant signed by the Selectmen. The warrant shall be posted at least seven days prior to town meeting by a Constable stating the time, place and subject of Town Meeting, on not less than four bulletin boards erected in Town and in at least 8 other public places equally distributed amount the four precincts.

The warrant must contain all subjects to be acted upon at Town Meeting. The Selectmen may, at their discretion, include in the annual Town Meeting warrant any articles submitted to them. Such articles are usually by the various boards, officers, or committees of the town or by the Selectmen themselves.

The Selectmen must include any article submitted to them by a petition of 10 or more registered voters of the town. The petition must include the text of the article, the signatures of the petitioners together with their residence including street and number, if any. The petition must be submitted by the Selectmen to the board of registrars for certification of signatures. When arriving at Town Meeting, voters will by checked in before entering the meeting hall. In order to vote on articles, you must be a registered voter in Westwood. If you are not a registered voter, you will be asked to sit in a specially designated visitor ’s area. The number of registered voters necessary to constitute a quorum at any Town Meeting held for the transaction of municipal business shall be one hundred and seventy five (175). Once a quorum is established the meeting is called to order by the Moderator who presides at the meeting and regulates proceedings, publicly declares all votes and decides all questions of order. No person may address the meeting without first obtaining the Moderators permission. A record of all votes and transactions of the town meeting as announced by the Moderator, are kept by the Town Clerk. The Town Clerks record is the only official record of a town meeting vote. All information pertaining to Town Meeting is kept in the Town Clerks office and is accessible to the general public upon their request.

Last Updated 7.1.08