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Civics Sunday - Part X: The Town Meeting Warrant

by Yvette Cain
April 21, 2019

What Is a Warrant?

Every Town Meeting must have a Warrant (according to MA General Laws).  The Warrant is similar to a meeting agenda.  It states the time and place for the meeting and lists Articles, that is, items of business, to be acted on at the meeting. 

Who Creates the Warrant?

The Select Board governs the content and order of the Articles of the Warrant up to the point when the Town Meeting Moderator calls the meeting to order. The Select Board includes articles of their own initiative, by request of another town committee, or by written petition signed by at least 10 voters. 

Behind the scene, each town department has prepared and furnishes the Finance Committee detailed estimates of its expenses for the following year. The Finance Committee determines its recommended appropriation and submits its advisory recommendations, with explanations and suggestions, to the citizens of the Town.

The Select Board is in charge of “opening” and “closing” the Warrant. The Warrant is considered “open” when the town meeting is called.  The Warrant is “closed” when no further changes are accepted. The Select Board sends a copy of the Warrant to the Moderator and the Chair of the Finance Committee.  At least 7 days prior to the Town Meeting, the Select Board also distributes printed copies of (and posts on the Town website) the Warrant and the Finance Committee’s recommendations to voters at the Senior Center, the Town Hall, and the Public Library.

What Can We Voters Expect of the Warrant?

Citizens may expect the Warrant to be clearly worded.  Additionally, it should contain complete descriptions of all subjects to be addressed at the meeting.  The Moderator’s skill, together with a carefully prepared Warrant, ensures an efficient Town Meeting.  Since Articles are taken up in order of their arrangement on the Warrant, Articles that are similar are usually placed together to prevent covering the same topic more than once.  Appropriations for each town function or department are usually in separate articles. Final appropriation is made by an action of Town Meeting.

The Town Meeting Warrant can be seen by clicking this link: https://www.townofholliston.us/sites/hollistonma/files/uploads/2019_annual_town_meeting_warrant.pdf

 

Resources:

https://www.hopedale-ma.gov/sites/hopedalema/files/uploads/mma_selectmans_handbook.pdf

http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cistwn/twnidx.htm

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVII/Chapter39/Section10

https://www.townofholliston.us/sites/hollistonma/files/file/file/2017_by_laws_-_searchable_0.pdf

https://www.townofholliston.us/sites/hollistonma/files/file/file/fincom_report_may_2018_1.pdf

 

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