- Voters May Not Limit Who May
Run For Local Office. A citizen called who was concerned that a particular family was
dominating town government. He wished to bring a petition that would prohibit more than
one member of the same family from serving on a board. The general laws of the State of
Vermont govern who can run for local office. With the exception of a short list of
incompatible offices, any person may run for the selectboard so long as he or she is a
voter in the town. 17 V.S.A. § 2646 & 2647. A petition cannot be used to alter the
general laws that affect a town. The only option for a town that wants to have a different
rule apply is to ask the legislature to change (or create) a charter for the town. See 17
V.S.A. § 2645.
A Town Can Move Town Meeting If It Must.
Every year some Town finds that the place it intended to hold town meeting is suddenly
unavailable. If Town Meeting absolutely needs to move to a new location, the best option
is to post a notice indicating the new location on all entrances to the original Town
Meeting location. If the town has enough advanced warning it would be a good idea to
notify the local media and post notices of the new location around town. Have the
moderator be prepared to begin a bit late to ensure that people who arrive at the original
meeting place on time will not miss the beginning of the meeting. After town meeting a
special meeting should be held to validate the town meeting. 17 V.S.A. § 2662.
A Town May Not Simultaneously Hold Its Australian
Ballot Voting In The Same Building As Town Meeting.
This Opinion will be clarified in next month's edition.
- Not Every Employee Gets Town Meeting Off. Although town meeting
day is designated as a state holiday, it is up to each employer as to whether employees
are given the holiday. School employees were wondering why they didnt get the day
off. Holidays are a matter for collective bargaining. 16 V.S.A. § 1072. School calendars
are adopted regionally by the superintendents in that area.
- Election Officials Should Allow Minor Children To Accompany Parents
Into The Voting Booth. So long as children are not disruptive they should be permitted
into the voting booth with a voting adult. 17 V.S.A. § 2566 provides that "on
receiving his ballot, the voter shall forthwith . . . retire alone to one of the booths
not occupied by any other person " A reasonable interpretation of this statute is
that a person should not go into a booth that is already occupied by a voter. Therefore,
the best practice is to allow a parent to be accompanied by a minor child into the voting
booth. Note that the clerk or other presiding officer oversees the election, and has an
obligation to ensure that the behavior of one voter (or his or her children) does not
unreasonably disrupt the polling place or make it difficult or unpleasant for other voters
to exercise the franchise.
- Fees Collected For Record Preservation Or For Reappraisal Must Be Kept
In A Reserve Fund. This month we received two similar questions. One clerk called to
ask how she could ensure that the $1.00 record preservation fee (collected as a surcharge
on recording pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 1671(c)(1)) is kept for record preservation
purposes. A lister called to find out how they could be sure that the state funds sent to
the town to help pay for reappraisal (32 V.S.A. § 4041a) were carried forward so that it
would be there when the time came to conduct a reappraisal. The general rule is that a
municipality may not carry surplus money from year to year unless it is kept in a reserve
fund. 24 V.S.A. § 2804 is the statute that permits municipalities to vote to establish
these funds. According to law, a reserve fund is under the direction and control of the
legislative body of the town. The money may be kept in a separate account, and can be
spent only for the purpose for which the fund was established. Note that the voters may
ordinarily elect to use reserve fund money for a different purpose, but in the cases
described above, the reserve fund money may only be used to fulfill the statutory purpose
of the fees (ie. record preservation or reappraisal)
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