Town Meeting

Current Town Meeting - January 25, 2021 - Burlington High School  and Virtual

Other Backup - Zoning Warrant Articles

Video presentations on Articles


Watch Town Meetings

Recent Town Meetings are available on Burlington Cable Access Television Youtube channel. Prior years are available in the Archives.

To watch livestreams of meetings, visit the Burlington Cable Access Television Facebook page.

History

On August 14, 1970, Chapter 686 of the Acts of 1970 was signed into law. This act allowed for a Representative Town Meeting form of government in Burlington, which was subsequently approved by the voters of Burlington on March 6, 1971 by a vote of 4,307 in favor, 1557 opposed and 410 blanks. On March 4, 1972, the first members were elected. It was amended on 2011 at the May Town Meeting to add a seventh Precinct for the 2012 Election Year. A third amendment was made in 2017 regarding Town Meeting members holding appointed positions.

View the current version of Chapter 686 (PDF).

Members

There are 126 Town Meeting Members, 18 from each of the seven precincts, elected for staggered 3-year terms. A quorum consists of 64 members. The remaining members of the Precinct fill vacancies occurring between elections.

Consider becoming a Town Meeting Member!

Town meeting members have an opportunity to vote on a variety of issues in Town. Some examples of impact include:            

  • Budgeting and funding levels for Board of Health, Police, Schools, Recreation, Council on Aging, Department of Public Works, and general Town administration.
  • Bylaw Review and Zoning Issues
  • Human Services (Transportation, Economics)
  • Land Use and Open Space (Landlocked Forest)
  • Town Facilities         
  • Director of Diversity 

How does Burlington Town Meeting work?

Burlington is a representative Town Government, which means that town residents are elected to represent their precinct at Town Meeting. The Town consists of 7 precincts each having 18 representatives for a total of 126 voting members. These representatives deliberate, act and vote on the corporate power of the town as well as ensuring that the town is in compliance with the duties and obligations required by the law.

  • This Citizens Guide provides a basic overview of Town government structure.
  • Burlington specific information regarding Town Meeting can be found on the Town Clerk's website here.
  • Watch the most recent Town Meeting video here.
  • Watch Town Clerk, Amy Warfield describe how to run for office here

What is the time commitment for a TMM?

Burlington typically holds Town Meeting events three times a year: January, May, and September. May is the most time intensive since the town budget is reviewed at this meeting. Special meetings may be called, but it is very infrequent. Here is the TMM handbook which provides an in depth look into TMM responsibilities and procedures. 

Do I have to join a committee?

No, TMM are not required to join a committee. However, TMM are encouraged to ask to be appointed to any committees for which they have interest or expertise. A TMM may serve as any or all of the following:

  1. Member of any committee(s) appointed by the Moderator;
  2. Member of any advisory committee(s) appointed for a special temporary purpose by the Selectmen, School Committee, or any other Town Board;
  3. Officer of elections; and
  4. Member of a political party’s town committee

How do I become a TMM? 

What are the requirements to become a TMM?

You must be a registered voter in Burlington.  If you aren’t registered, sign up here!

What paperwork is necessary?

A candidate needs to obtain nomination papers from the Town Clerk’s Office and get 10 signatures of residents (who are registered voters) from their precinct (find your precinct here).

What are the deadlines to complete the paperwork?

Nomination papers are available at the beginning of every calendar year.  You will then have about 5 weeks to get signatures from registered voters in your precinct to be able to get your name on the ballot.  These dates for future years will be posted when available.

What does campaigning entail? 

Historically, TMM candidates have not had to engage in a significant amount of campaigning because the races are not competitive. However, there is an uptick in political engagement at all levels and active campaigning is recommended. Since it is precinct based, you can make yard signs and post to social media. It is required that any money spent on campaigning is tracked. 

Due to the pandemic and the need for physical distancing, individuals should decide if or how they might engage in “door knocking” campaign efforts. 

Do I have to have been involved in Town government or have some government experience necessary?   No experience is required., just your interest in Local Government!

Are TMM paid?   No.

Can a TMM be elected to another Town position?  No.

Can a TMM be an employee of the Town?

Yes. However, TMM employed by the Town are encouraged to self-disclose any personal/familial benefit which might be gained/lost when the TMM rises to address the TM floor on such issues.

Warrant

The foundation of every Town Meeting is the warrant. The warrant states the time and place of the meeting and the subjects to be acted upon. Every action taken at the meeting must be pursuant to some article in the warrant, and must be within the scope of the article. Certain votes are not operative until 14 days after the dissolution of the meeting. That delay provides an opportunity for the general public to gather signatures (5% of the registered voters) requiring that the question be put to all the voters of the Town at an election. No vote of Town Meeting can be reversed unless at least 20% of the registered voters vote to reverse Town Meeting's action and they must also represent the majority of those voting.

The Selectmen prepare and issue the warrant. The Selectmen, Town Meeting Members, Moderator, School Committee, and residents (upon the written request of ten registered voters of the Town) may suggest articles for insertion to the warrant. The warrant is finalized 45 days prior to the meeting date.

Schedule of Meetings

Town Meeting has three regularly scheduled meetings each year; the second Monday of May (Annual), and the fourth Monday of September and January. Special Meetings may be held on the call of the moderator, or ten or more members, and upon written notices no less than seven days in advance delivered to the place of residence of each member and that of the moderator.