“Town Meeting 101” Session Held at Library

Reading, MA — Moderator Alan Foulds and Town Meeting members Jennifer Hillery and Geoffrey Coram hosted a “Town Meeting 101” forum at the Reading Public Library on Monday to, as Hillery stated,  “help Town Meeting members to hit the ground running.” Topics for the forum included, “What is Town Meeting?”, “When is Town Meeting?”, and “What happens before and after Town Meeting?” 

Hillery shared that Reading adopted a representative Town Meeting in 1944. The membership is made up of twenty-four elected members from each of Reading’s eight precincts. “Town Meeting is both an entity and an event,” Hillery added. Hillery continued to explain that Annual Town Meeting is in April, with the Subsequent Town Meeting occurring in November. Special Town Meetings can be called as needed.

Town Meeting member Jennifer Hillery

Coram then proceeded to explain that the warrant is the agenda for Town Meeting’s business and shared how the warrant is assembled. He also explained the budget process, emphasizing that Town Meeting has the final say in the budget. “The Town Manager and the Superintendent may have ideas, but Town Meeting has authority over all appropriations,” Coram confirmed. He also explained where the Town’s Free Cash reserves originate and how they may be used.

Town Meeting Member Geoffrey Coram holds up copy of the warrant

Foulds explained how the meeting operates. He noted that a quorum for business to be conducted is ninety-seven members and that both Town Meeting members and the public may speak on any warrant article, with Town Meeting members being allotted ten minutes to speak and members of the public being allowed five minutes. Foulds also spoke regarding motions, amendments, how voting occurs, and how the meeting is adjourned.

Geoffrey Coram and Town Moderator Alan Foulds

Town Clerk Laura Gemme added that votes of Town Meeting are subject to a seven-day waiting period, then are submitted to the appropriate state agencies for final approval. According to Gemme, the process of approval can take up to ninety days after the seven day waiting period.

The forum ended with a viewing of the video “Voice of the People” and with a period for questions from the audience. The entire “Town Meeting 101” forum can be viewed on RCTV’s YouTube channel.

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