Town of Belmont, MA
Middlesex County
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[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Belmont as Art. 2 of the 1981 Bylaws. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in the General Bylaws, the words "Town Meeting" shall mean a Representative Town Meeting, unless the context requires otherwise. The words "Town Election" shall mean that part of the Annual Town Meeting at which Town officers and Town Meeting Members are elected and matters to be acted upon and determined by ballot are acted upon and determined. A "Town Election" shall also mean any special meeting for the election of a Town officer or officers or for acting upon and determining matters to be acted upon and determined by ballot, including referenda.
[Amended 4-26-1999 ATM, approved 10-18-1999; 1-18-2012 STM, approved 3-22-2012; 5-14-2012 STM, approved 9-11-2012]
The Annual Town Election shall be held on the first Tuesday of April in each year and the Annual Town Meeting shall be held on the fifth Monday of April, if any, or otherwise the first Monday of May in each year. The Annual Town Election and the Annual Town Meeting may be called pursuant to a single warrant or separate warrants may be used, at the discretion of the Select Board.
Unless a different time or method is prescribed by law, notice of all Town Meetings and Town Elections shall be given by posting an attested copy of the warrant therefor on the Town Clerk's official bulletin board in the Town Hall at least seven days before the date fixed for the Annual Town Election or Annual Town Meeting and at least 14 days before the date fixed for a Special Town Meeting or Special Town Election. The Town Clerk shall notify the Town Meeting Members of the time and place at which Representative Town Meetings are to be held, the notice to be sent by mail or distributed electronically at least seven days before the meeting. Compliance with this subsection shall constitute full legal notice of any Town Meeting or Election.
[Amended 4-25-1994 ATM, approved 10-12-1994; 4-26-2010 ATM, approved 9-30-2010; 4-25-2011 ATM, approved 6-22-2011]
Pursuant to MGL c. 53, § 10, the last day for filing, with the Town Clerk, nomination papers for election as Town Meeting Member shall be the 35th day before the Annual Town Election. Any incumbent Town Meeting Member may become a candidate for reelection by giving written notice thereof to the Town Clerk not later than 35 days prior to the last day and hour for filing nomination papers. The Town Clerk shall give incumbent Town Meeting Members at least 14 days' notice of the deadline for filing notices of their intent to run for reelection.
At least seven days prior to the date of any Annual or Special Town Meeting, the Town Clerk shall cause a copy of the warrant therefor to be sent by mail, distributed electronically, or delivered to the Town Meeting Members. Copies of the warrant shall be made available to the public at the Town Clerk's office and public libraries before the date fixed for Town Meeting.
[Amended 4-25-1994 ATM, approved 10-12-1994; 4-25-2011 ATM, approved 6-22-2011]
Notice of every adjourned Town Meeting, except a stated adjournment of the Annual Town Election to the first business session of the Annual Town Meeting, shall be posted by the Town Clerk in five or more public places in the Town as soon as practicable after the adjournment. The notices so posted shall state briefly the business to be acted upon and shall include notice of any proposed reconsideration.
[Amended 4-25-1994 ATM, approved 10-12-1994]
Copies of the warrant shall be made available at all Town Meetings.
[Amended 6-16-1986 STM, approved 10-8-1986; 4-28-1997 ATM, approved 8-11-1997; 11-8-2010 ATM, approved 12-16-2010; 5-29-2013 STM, approved 10-8-2013]
The Moderator shall determine the procedural rules to be followed at all Town Meetings, subject to the following provisions of this section:
At any Town Meeting, if the Moderator or a vote of the Meeting so orders, no person who is not a Town Meeting Member, other than a press reporter or the official stenographer, shall be admitted to that portion of the meeting place which is reserved for Town Meeting Members. The Moderator shall determine the limits of the reserved area.
Articles in the warrant shall be acted upon in their order, unless the Meeting votes otherwise.
All motions that involve the expenditure of money shall be submitted in writing. Any report, motion or resolution shall be reduced to writing if the Moderator so directs.
Every person desiring to speak shall first be recognized by the Moderator and shall stand while speaking unless the Moderator shall otherwise direct. A Town Meeting Member who speaks upon any matter in which the speaker or his or her immediate family has a direct financial interest shall first disclose such interest to the Meeting. The words "direct financial interest" shall include, but not be limited to, employment as attorney or consultant with respect to the matter.
Unless the Meeting consents, no person shall speak more than twice upon any question, except to correct an error or to make an explanation. No person shall speak for more than five minutes when speaking for the second time and then only after others who have not spoken upon the question shall have had the opportunity to speak.
Counting and recording of votes:
[Amended 6-3-2013 ATM, approved 10-9-2013; 11-13-2019 STM, approved 2-18-2020]
As used in this section, the words "electronic" and "electronically," when used in reference to voting or the counting of votes at Town Meeting, shall refer to the use of computer software to record votes transmitted from wireless handheld mobile devices distributed and assigned to each Town Meeting Member in attendance. The Moderator shall review proper use of the mobile devices and direct a test of the electronic system at the beginning of each Town Meeting session.
Except as otherwise provided in this section or by any other applicable law, all votes shall be taken in the first instance by electronic roll call vote.
Electronic roll call votes not required: Electronic roll call votes shall not be required on motions that are privileged, subsidiary, incidental, or non-binding; in these cases the vote shall be taken in the first instance by a "YES" and "NO" voice vote. If the Moderator is in doubt as to the vote, or if any Town Meeting Member immediately doubts the vote, the Moderator shall count the vote electronically, provided that at the beginning of each session of Town Meeting, at least 2/3 of the Town Meeting Members present and voting have approved a motion to allow electronic counting of non-roll call votes for that session of Town Meeting.
If an electronic roll call vote is taken as provided in this subsection, the Town Clerk shall cause the operator of the electronic voting system to preserve the electronic file recording the "YES," "NO," and "ABSTAIN" votes of each individual Town Meeting Member who shall have voted, and such record shall be made available to the public at the office of the Town Clerk and on the Town's web page within two business days of the vote, and shall be printed in the Town Annual Report. The individual roll call votes of Town Meeting Members shall be displayed contemporaneously to the Meeting.
In the event that an electronic voting system is not available, then:
In all cases where an electronic vote would otherwise be required under these Bylaws, the Moderator shall direct the "YES" and "NO" voters to stand and be counted by the tellers; and
In all cases where an electronic roll call vote is required under these Bylaws, the Town Clerk shall call the roll, record the vote, "YES," "NO," or "ABSTAIN" of each Town Meeting Member and make such record available as provided in Subsection F(4).
When a question is before the Meeting, the following motions shall be received and shall have precedence in the following order:
To adjourn.
To lay on the table.
For the previous question.
To postpone to a time certain.
To commit, recommit or refer.
To amend.
To postpone indefinitely.
Motions to adjourn, to lay on the table or for the previous question shall be decided without debate.
A motion to reconsider any vote must be made before the dissolution of the meeting at which the vote was passed, but such motion to reconsider shall not be made at an adjourned Meeting unless the mover has given notice of his intention to make such a motion, either at the session of the Meeting at which the vote was passed or by written notice delivered to the Town Clerk by 12:00 noon on the first business day following the commencement of such session. If the vote to be reconsidered was taken by roll call vote, a motion to reconsider will not be in order unless it is made by a Town Meeting Member who had voted with the prevailing side. There can be no reconsideration of a vote once reconsidered or after a vote not to reconsider it. No article in the warrant shall be reconsidered after it has been disposed of, unless 2/3 of the Town Meeting Members present shall so vote.
[Amended 11-13-2019 STM, approved 2-18-2020]
In matters not specifically provided for by law or by the General Bylaws, the Moderator shall be guided by the principles and rules of practice contained in Town Meeting Time, A Handbook of Parliamentary Practice, by Johnson, Trustman and Wadsworth.