Government by Town Meeting

The Town of Lyme practices a form of local government that is common in many New England states called Town Meeting. The term itself may appear initially confusing because it indicates both the specific form of local government Lyme uses (“Town Meeting”) and the annual event or events that are held where local residents gather together to conduct this form of government (“the Town Meeting”).

The Town Meeting form of government is separate and distinct from “town hall meetings” – the public forums that political candidates or officials hold to interact directly with voters.

Using the Town Meeting form of government enables the residents of Lyme to govern themselves directly.  Lyme’s annual Town Meeting (i.e., the event) – and any other Town Meetings necessitated by circumstances – are open to all registered voters, as well as any unregistered voters who have more than $1,000 in property listed on the Town’s Grand List as of October 1st of that year.

At the meeting, these residents are able to voice their personal opinions on each agenda item being discussed and vote their conscience on each item, along with their neighbors.  Here’s how the process works:

  • Lyme’s Board of Selectmen calls a Town Meeting into existence by issuing a document called a “warrant” which lists the specific agenda items (called “articles”) that will be voted on at the meeting.
  • Among the articles that are typically included in the warrant for a Town Meeting are the Town budget; local Town ordinances; the acceptance of donations of land or property to the Town; the Town report receipt; and any significant expenditures not included in the budget (if necessary).
  • There is a Moderator on hand who officiates the meeting, ensures the rules
of parliamentary procedure are followed and counts the votes.
  • The Town Clerk reads each article of the agenda, keeps minutes of the meeting and records voting results.
  • The Selectmen are present to explain what each agenda item is about, prior to an open discussion and vote.
  • The Town Counsel (the Town’s lawyer) may also be in attendance to offer legal opinions, if needed.

You can keep abreast of Town Meetings here.  We encourage you to attend and participate in the next Town Meeting.