What is Representative Town Meeting?
The Town Meeting is the legislative body for the Town of Wellesley. 240 voting town meeting members are elected by precincts in the Annual Town Election on the first Tuesday of March every year. Each precinct has 33 or 36 members elected to three year staggered terms.
The Annual Town Meeting begins on the last Monday in March and meets Monday and Tuesday nights until the business of the meeting is concluded. The length of the town meeting is dependent on the number of articles on the Warrant and the complexity of the issues to be discussed.
The Town Meeting takes action on the Articles list in the Warrant for the meeting. All town meetings, whether annual or special, are initiated by a Warrant issued by the Board of Selectmen. The Warrant is a list of items to be considered by the meeting. For the annual meeting, the Board of Selectmen generally opens the warrant in December and accepts articles proposed by boards, committees, or citizen petition for several weeks. The dates of opening and closing of the warrant are announced in public meetings. The subject matter of the warrant articles are: committee reports, appropriations, amendments to zoning and town bylaws, acceptance of general laws, petitions for special legislation, and other matters requiring the authorization of Town Meeting. The Warrant is compiled by the Board of Selectmen and
posted via this website.
A citizen may sponsor a warrant article by filing a citizens's petition with the Town Clerk prior to the closing of the warrant. This petition must be signed by 10 voters and include a fair description of the subject matter the petitioner desires to put before the meeting. Citizens who are interested in filing such petitions should contact the Town Clerk for additional information.
The Warrant consists of Articles listing the subject matter for each item to be considered by the Town Meeting. The Article can address only one issue. It is the town practice to consider the entire town operating budget in one omnibus article to facilitate discussion. The language of the article is specific enough to give full notice of what may be considered under the topic. Frequently the exact language for consideration is developed after the warrant is published.
The Town Meeting votes on Motions, offered by the proponents, that are within the scope of the articles in the Warrant. The language of the motion is the specific action requested of Town Meeting. Motions can only be offered by town meeting members. By leave of the Moderator, non members may address the specifics of the motion. In Wellesley a motion is properly offered by the proponent and requires no seconding.
The Moderator conducts town meeting. He/she is the final authority on the scope of articles, the propriety of motions, the order of speakers and the call of the vote of Town Meeting on each motion. The Moderator has other appointment duties in addition to the conduct of Town Meeting.
All town residents are allowed to address town meeting and participate in the debate. Non-residents may address the meeting by leave of the moderator. Only Town Meeting Members are allowed to vote on the issues raised at the meeting.
The Advisory Committee acts as a resource to Town Meeting Members. By town bylaw the Advisory Committee considers the justification and background material for every article that comes before town meeting. After weekly public meetings and discussions with the proponents and a public hearing the Advisory Committee votes their recommendation for every motion. The background information and recommendations are published in the Advisory Committee Report for each town meeting. This book is mailed to all Town Meeting Members and available to the public upon request. It is also published to this website in mid March.
Voting on motions is generally by a calling of the yeas and nays by voice vote. In certain circumstances the moderator will call for a standing counted vote. In rare circumstances the members of the body will request a ballot vote prior to any other form of vote.
The proceedings of Town Meeting are open to the public and are broadcast live on the local cable channel.