Town of Lancaster, MA
Worcester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Select Board of the Town of Lancaster; printed as amended through 3-1-2005. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Other boards, committees and commissions — See Ch. 17.
Town Meetings and Election — See Ch. 180.
The Select Board of the Town of Lancaster, recognizing the need to codify the traditional and accepted working relationships among the members of the Board, between the Board and the Town Administrator, and between the Board and other Town boards, committees, officials and citizens, and also recognizing the need to systemize and reduce to writing the Town's public policies and procedures, hereby undertakes to create operating procedures for the Select Board.
These policies and procedures shall contain items relating to topics that cannot be addressed elsewhere. Subjects that would more appropriately be addressed in a statute, bylaw or regulation shall not be addressed in this format.
A. 
Draft policies and procedures shall be placed on the agenda for any regularly scheduled meeting of the Board. Drafts shall be in writing, and may be introduced only by a member of the Board or the Town Administrator. Upon receipt of a draft, the Board may choose to discuss the policy immediately or schedule the discussion for a future meeting. The Board may schedule any hearings or meetings it deems necessary for discussion. The Board may distribute a draft for comment to appropriate officials, as it deems necessary.
B. 
The Board shall not vote on a policy at the same meeting that it is first introduced. This rule may be waived if the Board unanimously votes that prompt action is necessary. A unanimous vote of a three-member Board or four votes of a five-member Board is necessary for adoption.
C. 
The Town Administrator shall be responsible for the maintenance of all policies and procedures.
The Select Board is an elected Board and derives its authority and responsibilities from the statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the bylaws of the Town of Lancaster.
The Board shall consist of three duly elected members. Before assuming official duties, each newly elected member shall be sworn to faithful performance of official responsibilities by the Town Clerk.
When a vacancy occurs in the membership of the Select Board, the Board or its remaining members shall call a Special Town Election to fill the unexpired term or terms in accordance with the Massachusetts General Laws.
A. 
The Board is responsible for policy development and review for compliance. The Board works with the Town Administrator on policy formulation.
B. 
The Board is responsible for supervising the departments of the general government that are not supervised by other elected officials. This responsibility is delegated to the Town Administrator, and the Board will refrain from involvement in day-to-day operations. Concerns and questions about the operation of departments, and suggestions for improvements should be addressed to the Town Administrator. The responsibility for addressing these issues is thus carried out through the Town Administrator. Select Board members may be called upon to resolve disputes that are unable to be resolved on the staff level. The Select Board may follow up on concerns or issues addressing these approved policies.
A. 
The Board appoints a Town Administrator who functions as the Town's Chief Administrative Officer. The primary duties of the Town Administrator shall be the day-to-day administration of the general government as outlined in the position's job description. The Town Administrator shall also assist and work under the direction of the Select Board in the formulation of policy.
B. 
The Town Administrator must maintain a close working relationship with all members of the Board. He/she shall regularly brief the Board on all important issues.
C. 
In order to provide the Town with continuity of management and the Town Administrator with job security, the Select Board are committed to maintaining an employment agreement with the Town Administrator, as permitted by statute.
A. 
A member of the Select Board, in relation to his or her community should:
(1) 
Realize that his or her basic function is to make policy, with administration delegated to the Town Administrator.
(2) 
Realize that he or she is one of a team and should abide by, and carry out, all Board decisions once they are made.
(3) 
Be well informed concerning the duties of a Board member on both local and state levels.
(4) 
Remember that he or she represents the entire community at all times.
(5) 
Accept the office of Select Board as a means of unselfish service, not to benefit personally or politically from his or her Board activities.
(6) 
In all appointments, avoid political patronage by judging all candidates on merit, experience, and qualifications only.
(7) 
Abide by the ethics established by the state and not use the position to obtain inside information on matters that may benefit someone personally.
B. 
A member of the Select Board, in his or her relations with administrative officers of the Town, should:
(1) 
Endeavor to establish sound, clearly defined policies that will direct and support the administration for the benefit of the people of the community.
(2) 
Recognize and support the administrative chain of command and refuse to act on complaints as an individual outside the administration.
(3) 
Give the Town Administrator full responsibility for discharging his or her disposition and solution.
C. 
A member of the Select Board, in her or her relations with fellow Board members, should:
(1) 
Recognize that action at official legal meetings is binding and that he or she alone cannot bind the Board outside of such meetings.
(2) 
Not make statements or promises of how he or she will vote on matters that will come before the Board until he or she has had an opportunity to hear the pros and cons of the issue during a Board meeting.
(3) 
Uphold the intent of executive session and respect the privileged communication that exists in executive session.
(4) 
Make decisions only after all facts on a question have been presented and discussed.
(5) 
Treat with respect the rights of all members of the Board despite differences of opinion.
The Chairman shall be elected annually at the first regular meeting following the Annual Town Election. The Board at any time may remove the Chairman. A majority vote shall constitute an election. Nominations require no second. The immediate past Chairman shall preside as Chairman Pro Tem until the Chairman is elected. If there is no immediate past Chairman, the senior member in terms of current service shall serve as Chairman Pro Tem. In the case of members with the same amount of seniority, the member receiving more votes in the most recent election shall serve. If a vacancy occurs in the office of Chairman, the Board shall elect a successor. The Board shall further appoint a Clerk under the same provisions stated for the Chairman.
The Chairman of the Board shall:
A. 
Preside at all meetings of the Board. In doing so, he/she shall maintain order in the meeting room, recognize speakers, call for votes and preside over the discussion of agenda items.
B. 
Sign official documents that require the signature of the Chairman.
C. 
Call special meetings in accordance with the Open Meeting Law.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See MGL c. 39, § 23B.
D. 
Prepare agendas with the Town Administrator.
E. 
Arrange orientation for new members.
F. 
Represent the Board at meetings, conferences and other gatherings unless otherwise determined by the Board or delegated by the Chairman.
G. 
Serve as spokesman of the Board at Town Meetings and present the Board's position unless otherwise determined by the Board or delegated by the Chairman.
H. 
Make liaison assignments and assign overview responsibilities for project and tasks to Board members unless otherwise determined by the Board.
I. 
The Chairman shall have the same rights as other members to offer motions and resolutions, to discuss questions and to vote thereon.
The Clerk of the Board shall act in the place of the Chairman during his/her absence at meetings. Should the Chairman leave office, the Clerk shall assume the duties of Chairman until the Board elects a new Chairman. The Clerk is to sign approved meeting minutes.
Regular Board Meetings are held the first and third Mondays of each month. The Board shall not meet on days designated legal holidays.
A meeting called for any time other than the regular meetings shall be known as a "special meeting." The same rules as those established for regular meetings will apply. Special meetings may be called provided that a majority of the members agree to meet and all Board members are notified.
The Board may conduct informal "working sessions" from time to time as the situation warrants. At such meetings, which will be posted in accordance with the Open Meeting Law,[1] no official action will be taken. A synopsis of transactions of informal meetings will be made a part of the minutes of the following regular meeting.
[1]
Editor's Note: See MGL c. 39, § 23B.
A. 
Meetings are to be conducted in accordance with generally accepted rules of parliamentary procedure and the Open Meeting Law. It is the practice that application of such procedure is on a relatively informal basis, due to the size of the group and the desirability of flexibility in the expression of opinion. Robert's Rules of Order is used as a guide in matters requiring clarification of definition.
B. 
A quorum shall consist of two members of the Board. As a practical courtesy, action on critical or controversial matters, the adoption of policy or appointments shall be taken, whenever practicable, with the full Board is in attendance. Actions and decisions shall be by motion, second and vote. Split votes will be identified by name.
C. 
The Town Administrator is expected to be in attendance at all meetings of the Board. The Town Administrator shall attend in order to keep the Board informed and advised and recommend in all matters that fall within the jurisdiction of his office. He/she shall carry out the actions of the Board as they relate to the conduct and administration of Town affairs under his jurisdiction.
If practicable, executive sessions, other than a few minutes in duration, will be scheduled only at the end of the open meeting. Only items clearly allowed under the Open Meeting Law shall be included in executive session. The mover must specify in the motion to enter executive session the reason the session sought. A majority of the members present must vote to enter executive session by roll call vote. The Chairman must state whether or not the Board will reconvene into open session.
A. 
The responsibility for coordinating and planning the weekly agenda is that of the Town Administrator. Each of the Board members and the Town Administrator may place items on the agenda. The Town Administrator, in consultation with the Chairman, shall schedule a realistic time period for each appointment, interview, conference or other scheduled item of business.
B. 
All items for the agenda must be submitted to the Town Administrator at least seven days preceding the meeting, or not later that 4:00 p.m. on the Monday of the week preceding the meeting. Items of emergency or strictly routine nature that develop after closing of the agenda may be considered under "other business."
C. 
Agenda items shall include:
(1) 
Call to order.
(2) 
Public comment period.
(3) 
Scheduled appearances and public hearings.
(4) 
Town Administrator's report.
(5) 
Approval of meeting minutes.
(6) 
Appointments and resignations.
(7) 
Administration, budget, and policy.
(8) 
Legal notices and publications.
(9) 
Licenses and permits.
(10) 
Communications.
(11) 
Other business.
(12) 
New business.
(13) 
Adjournment.
D. 
Members of the Board, staff, Town Administrator or others who prepare background material for the meeting should make an effort to have such material available for Tuesday afternoon. If background information is insufficient or complicated or if complex memos or motions are presented at the meeting which were not in the Board's meeting packet, any member should feel free to request the tabling of the item to allow careful study of the material presented or the motion proposed.
E. 
The agenda shall be available to the public and the press at the Select Board's office the Monday morning prior to the meeting date and shall be posted at the Town Office bulletin board that same morning. Copies of the minutes of the previous meeting and all important correspondence, reports and other pertinent background materials shall be forwarded with the agenda to Board members.
F. 
The Board shall not begin discussion of or act on an agenda item after 10:00 p.m. of a regularly scheduled meeting. This rule may be waived by a unanimous vote.
A. 
The Executive Assistant shall take written notes during the meetings and prepare typewritten minutes for the next meeting's agenda.
B. 
Minutes circulated to members of the Board on or before any Friday shall be in order for approval at the next regular meeting of the Board. By unanimous consent, minor corrections may be made to the minutes without advance circulation of such corrections.
C. 
Minutes shall contain a full statement of all actions taken by the Board and of the disposition of all proposals for action. Approved minutes shall be recorded in a Minutes Book that shall be bound when filled to capacity. Minutes of Executive Sessions shall be separately kept and recorded in accordance with the above procedures. Minutes (other than of executive sessions) are open for public inspection.
A. 
The Board makes numerous appointments each year. Appointments are generally made for one or three years in length. In no case shall appointments be made for more than three years unless specifically allowed by Town bylaw or state statute. Appointments generally are made June 1 of each year. In the case of appointments, no second to the nomination or motion will be required prior to Board action.
B. 
Whenever possible the Board will seek variety in backgrounds, interests, ages, sex and geographic areas of residents, so that a true cross section of the community will be reflected. In order to attract qualified and interested persons, vacancies will be made public as far in advance of appointment as practicable. Vacancies could be advertised in the local paper as well as on cable TV. Appointments should be based on merit and qualifications rather than political merit.
C. 
Nepotism pertaining to service on boards and committees. Members of an immediate family defined as: spouse, son, daughter, father, mother, sister, brother, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew and the following in-laws: son, daughter, brother, sister, mother and father shall not serve together on the same board or committee.
D. 
The Town Administrator will:
(1) 
Provide by March 1 a list of the appointment vacancies to be filled by the Board.
(2) 
Notify the chairman of the appropriate board or committee requesting recommendations regarding reappointment or the filling of vacancies.
(3) 
Notify incumbents and request their statements of availability regarding reappointment.
E. 
All candidates seeking appointment for the first time to a position shall submit a short written statement or resume. This statement/resume shall be included in the Board agenda packet mailed in advance of the meeting. The Board may consider reappointments to positions at their pleasure. A statement/resume will only be requested from a candidate seeking reappointment by specific request of a member of the Board.
F. 
The Board will interview candidates seeking an appointment for the first time to the following positions as well as all elected positions being filled due to a vacancy:
(1) 
Disability Commission.
(2) 
Historical Commission.
(3) 
Personnel Board.
(4) 
Board of Appeals.
(5) 
Conservation Commission.
(6) 
MRPC/MRTA/MJTC Positions.
(7) 
Recreation Committee.
(8) 
Forest Committee.
G. 
Notice of candidates being interviewed shall be included in the agenda mailed to the Board. The Board may request that candidates for a position not listed above be interviewed. Those candidates not being interviewed will be considered upon receipt of a resume/statement.
H. 
Appointments will normally be made only when all members of the Select Board are present. Appointments will be made by a majority vote of the Select Board.
A. 
The Board may appoint standing or ad hoc advisory committees to aid on matters under the Board's jurisdiction. The use of such advisory committees provides greater expertise and more widespread citizen participation in the operation of government.
B. 
Charges to advisory committees shall be in writing and shall include the work to be undertaken, the time in which it is to be accomplished and the procedures for reporting to the Select Board. Each committee must report in writing at least annually to the Select Board. The Select Board's office shall be sent copies of all committee agendas and minutes. The Board will discharge committees upon the completion of their work. In addition, each committee shall be provided with a Committee Handbook addressing issues such as conduct and law.
C. 
The charges and membership of standing advisory committees shall be reviewed periodically, at least annually, to assess the necessity and desirability of continuing the committee. Reappointments will be based on an evaluation of the member's contribution, the desirability of widespread citizen involvement and the changing needs of the committee and the Town.
D. 
It is the policy of the Select Board to appoint qualified citizens representing all sections of the Town to all such advisory committees. The Board will normally appoint no individual to more than one standing advisory committee at any one time.
E. 
In order to attract qualified and interested persons, vacancies will be made public as far in advance of an appointment as practicable.
A. 
The Select Board is aware that coordination and cooperation is needed among the Town's major boards, committees and commissions not only in the day-to-day operations of government but also to:
(1) 
Set Town-wide goals and priorities,
(2) 
Identify and anticipate major problems and working together towards their resolution, and
(3) 
Develop a process for dealing with state and county government.
B. 
Therefore, as the executive board historically responsible for the overall leadership and coordination of Town affairs, the Select Board will:
(1) 
Regularly schedule meetings with the chairmen of major boards and committees to carry out functions listed in Subsection A(1) through (3) above. One meeting, shall, if possible, be held between the Annual Election and the start of Town Meeting for the purpose of reviewing the Warrant and expediting Town Meeting.
(2) 
Schedule periodic meetings of the Select Board, Finance Committee and School Committee with Lancaster's State Legislators to discuss legislative issues that affect the Town.
(3) 
The Town Administrator is responsible for interoffice communication in the day-to-day operations of government. The Town Administrator shall develop a process for exchange of information and the provision for advise and recommendations among the boards, committees and commissions with common interest, which shall include but not be limited to the exchange of minutes, the establishment of a central repository for data, studies and reports and the appointment of members or staff of boards, committees or commissions as liaison with one another around common projects.
(4) 
Appoint certain members of the Select Board to act in the liaison role defined above.
The Board recognizes that it represents and is accountable to all citizens of the Town. It is the Board's policy to make every effort to strengthen communications with citizens. Measures will be instituted to increase citizen participation, encourage citizen input into governmental decisions and to keep citizens informed of all actions contemplated or taken by the Board and the Town Meeting that will affect them. To this end the following steps will be taken:
A. 
An individual citizen or group of citizens may request an appointment before the Board by contacting the Town Administrator, stating precisely the reason for the appearance and the action desired and naming a spokesman for the group. Participants shall be given the opportunity to make a reasonable presentation through the spokesman and to express opinions and ask for pertinent information. Background data shall be prepared by the boards and departments concerned prior to the appointment insofar as possible, so that all parties involved can have a reasonable understanding of the subject matter. Citizens are encouraged to have written materials submitted for the Board's meeting packet.
B. 
Persons who will be directly affected by proposed Board discussion and/or action will be notified by the Executive Assistant of the date and time of meeting at which the matter will be discussed or acted upon by the Board.
C. 
If the Board in considering matters of citizen concern at a regular meeting, the public will be allowed to ask questions or make statements relative to the matter under consideration at the discretion of the Chairman or upon request of any member of the Board.
D. 
All citizen questions and complaints are to be answered promptly. The Chairman shall answer questions and concerns relating solely to the office of Select Board promptly after consulting with the Board, or at the discretion of the Chairman, the Town Administrator. Those needing prompt attention by the Board should be referred to the Chairman for inclusion in the next meeting agenda.
E. 
All other questions and all complaints are to be referred to the Select Board's office for action or recommendations. In those instances where common sense dictates that the Board member receiving the compliant deal directly with a department head, the Board member shall inform the Town Administrator of the issue and its disposition.
These are to be handled as delineated in Chapter 140, Personnel, of the Code of the Town of Lancaster and policies and procedures. Under Chapter 140, Personnel, the Personnel Board formulates the personnel practices. If employee grievances are brought to the attention of a Board member it shall be Board policy to proceed as follows:
A. 
Select Board will not intercede or interfere with the process.
B. 
The employee will be shown the administrative process to be followed.
C. 
Any employee may request a meeting with the Board.
D. 
The Board may defer such meeting until other remedies have been exhausted.
Hearings before the Select Board generally shall be conducted in accordance with the following procedures. Variations may be necessary to comply with statutory requirements applicable to particular matters. The procedure for conducting dog and utility hearings are hereinafter outlined:
A. 
Notice. The Executive Assistant will advertise the hearing and notify interested persons, such as abutters, as required by statute or as directed by the Chairman in the absence of statutory requirements.
B. 
Hearings will be held in open session unless otherwise voted by the Board in compliance with the Open Meeting Law.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See MGL c. 39, § 23B.
C. 
The Chairman will announce the nature and purpose of the hearing, identify the particular matter, and recite the notice given. Where appropriate, the Chairman will outline the procedure to be followed. All questions shall be addressed to the Chair.
D. 
The order of presentation will be:
(1) 
Presentation by proponent.
(2) 
Receipt of recommendations from any Town agency or officer.
(3) 
Statements by proponents.
(4) 
Statements of opponents.
(5) 
Rebuttal statements by proponents and opponents.
(6) 
Where appropriate, questions may be asked of any person making a statement after the statement is finished. Questions will be accepted first from members of the Board.
E. 
The Board may permit persons not desiring to speak to record themselves as in favor or against the proposal. In the discretion of the Board a show of hands may be taken.
F. 
At the conclusion of the hearing the Board may render its decision or take the matter under advisement, announcing the intended date of decision.
A. 
Annual Town Meetings. The Town Meeting Warrant is, by statute, the Select Board's Warrant. The Select Board may insert articles in the Warrant on its own initiative or by written petition signed by 10 registered voters for the Annual Town Meeting. The Town bylaw[1] sets the date of the Annual Town Meeting for the first Monday in May. The Select Board may, however, schedule the Annual Town Meeting for any other date allowed by bylaw or Massachusetts General Law.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 180, Town Meetings and Elections.
B. 
Special Town Meetings.
(1) 
The Select Board may call a Special Town Meeting when, in its opinion, public necessity or municipal operations requires it. The Select Board must call a Special Town Meeting if it receives a written request, signed by 200 registered voters. It shall be the practice of the Town of Lancaster to address major issues at the Annual Town Meeting.
(2) 
The Select Board may insert articles in the Warrant on their own initiative or by written petition signed by 100 registered voters for Special Town Meeting. The Select Board may also insert articles in the Warrant upon request of another committee.
(3) 
Notwithstanding the above, in the interest of economy of operations and imposition on the voters the Select Board shall strive to limit the calling of Special Town Meetings to the minimum necessary as is otherwise in the Town's best interest. In determining whether to call a Special Town Meeting, the Select Board may consult with other Town committees, officials, and staff as appropriate. It is strongly recommended that the Moderator and Town Clerk be consulted for each Town Meeting.