Understanding Town Meeting
Town Meeting is the legislative body of the town. It is held annually in the spring and in the fall, on a date designated by the Board of Selectmen. Town Meeting authorizes and appropriates an annual operating budget and capital budget for the Town. It also considers, and acts upon, all proposed bylaws and zoning changes. All matters to be acted upon are published in the "Warrant."
Town Meeting Warrants
A warrant is a document issued by the Board of Selectmen to call a town meeting.
Warrants essentially list an agenda of items called articles to be voted on by those present. Items on the agenda can vary significantly, from the annual operating budget of the town to adjustment of by-laws.
Adding Articles to Warrant
In Massachusetts, residents may place articles on the warrant without approval of the Selectmen by petitioning to insert the article. Petitions to insert an article on the warrant for an Annual Town Meeting require ten signatures of eligible Eastham voters. Petitions to insert an article on the warrant for a Special Town Meeting require 100 signatures or the signatures of 10% of the registered voters in the town, whichever is less.
The Warrant for the Annual Town Meeting is usually open for acceptance of articles several weeks before Town Meeting. Please contact the Town Clerk's office with any questions on Town meeting or how to submit an article for consideration.
2 ½ Override - A referendum procedure in which the Town can vote to increase its levy limit.
2/3rds Majority Vote - The appropriation of money requires a vote of 2/3rds of the Town Meeting Members present to pass an article.
Budget - Financial plan for the fiscal year of proposed expenditures and proposed means of financing them.
Capital Exclusion - A referendum procedure in which the Town can vote to collect property taxes in excess of its levy limit to pay for a specific expenditure.
Cherry Sheet - Named for the color of the paper traditionally printed on, details the estimated State aid to be received by the Town.
Debt Exclusion -A referendum procedure in which the Town can vote to collect property taxes in excess of its levy limit to pay for a specified period of time.
Declared Vote - The Moderator may decide the sense of Town Meeting by a voice vote. If seven or more members question the vote immediately, the Moderator will ask for a standing vote and declare the vote as final.
Fiscal Year - The town fiscal year for the proposed budget begins on July 1 and ends on June 30.
Free Cash - The amount of surplus revenue not spent from previous fiscal year over and above uncollected taxes that is certified by the State. It is available for appropriation by Town Meeting.
Levy Limit - Under Proposition 2 ½ the maximum amount that the town can raise in property taxes is 2-½% more than the maximum it was allowed to raise for the prior fiscal year plus adjustment for growth.
Majority Vote - A vote of one half plus one of the Town Meeting Members present to pass an article.
Move the Question - A motion to vote to end debate on a pending motion.
Point of Order - A question directed to the Moderator concerning a procedure of the meeting.
Reconsideration - To introduce new information that may change the vote of an article that has already been voted upon.
Reserve Fund - The fund established by Town Meeting for extraordinary or unforeseen expenditures. Transfers from fund need to be approved by the Finance Committee.
Unanimous Vote - A vote of all the Town Meeting Members present.