The Selectboard is at the center of town government in Vermont, and Middlesex is no exception.
Middlesex has a five-member Selectboard. Members are elected by Middlesex voters at Town Meeting, for staggered terms of either two or three years. The Selectboard is responsible for the general supervision of town affairs. It has a number of functions, including: legislative (enacts local ordinances, regulations and policies), and administrative (prepares the budget, oversees all town expenditures, supervises town employees and controls town buildings and property). It also does work that is quasi-judicial–for example, it determines private rights when the town is laying out and reclassifying town highways.
Selectboard members want to hear from you. The sooner they hear from you about a problem, or the earlier in a decision-making process you offer your comments, the better it is for everyone. Selectboard members welcome questions, concerns or just chatting with Middlesex citizens, and encourage you to contact them by phone, e-mail, or in person. (See Contacts)
Citizens are always welcome to attend Selectboard meetings and join in the discussion. The agenda is posted at the Rumney School, the Town Hall, and the village store, or you can request one from the Selectboard Assistant.
Selectboard meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month at 5:30pm at the Town Clerk’s Office. The public is always welcome. To get a particular issue on the agenda, contact the Selectboard Clerk. (See Contacts)
Middlesex 2009 Discretionary Funding Task Force
Purpose of Task Force:
To ensure that the citizens of Middlesex have all the information they need to make discretionary spending decisions at town meeting.
Many organizations request funds from Middlesex at town meeting. Generally appearing at the end of the town meeting warning, these special articles often generate the most citizen debate. Many voters have expressed dismay in not knowing enough about the groups they are being asked to fund, and how they serve the citizens of Middlesex. Organizations owe voters a full accounting of how they have used/will use money contributed by Middlesex. If they offer an accounting, then citizens can vote based on it. If inadequate information or no accounting is offered, citizens should be informed of this, and can also vote accordingly.
Here’s the plan:
Upon receiving a petition or letter requesting “discretionary spending” funding from the Middlesex Town Meeting, the Town Clerk’s office will mail or email a reminder letter to any organization requesting funds. (See attached letter.)
At this point, the Task Force will:
• Check to see that all organizations seeking funding submit the necessary information.
• If information is not submitted or is incomplete, Task Force members may contact organization to demand further details.
• If details are not forthcoming, the Task Force will report on the lack of details to citizens at Town Meeting.
The Task Force is not expected to make specific funding recommendations.
The Task Force has a small window of time to do their work: between when petitions are received, and when reports are due to town clerk’s office. Petitions start to arrive in the town clerk’s office in late December or early January, but the deadline for petitioned articles is January 26, 2012, so it’s possible some could arrive this late. Meanwhile, the town clerk requires that organizations submit their reports for inclusion in the Town Report by January 20, 2012.
The Task Force will need to organize its work to meet these deadlines. (The good news is; this isn’t a committee whose work will drag out over a long period of time!)
The Town Clerk’s office, located in Middlesex Town Hall, is the hub of town activity. Not only does the Town Clerk run Middlesex’s elections; this is where you go if you want to look at town records (land, birth, death, marriage, you name it), ask a question about local taxes, or license your dog. Many meeting notices are also posted at this office. Vermont law entrusts the Town Clerk with an extraordinary list of duties, ranging from recording, preserving and certifying public documents to administering oaths of office, running the local elections, maintaining the grand list, issuing marriage licenses, and licensing animals.
The Town Clerk is elected at Town Meeting for a one-year term. Middlesex also has an Assistant Town Clerk, appointed by the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk is an independent official, answerable only to the voters. S/he may set the clerk’s office hours. (See Contacts)
The municipal administrative officer, more commonly known as the “zoning administrator,” is the person who administers the zoning ordinances. This officer is typically one of the first public officials contacted when property development is proposed, or when someone has a complaint. The Zoning Administrator must administer the municipal bylaws literally, and does not have the power to permit any land development that is not in conformance with the zoning bylaws. The Zoning Administrator is appointed (or, if no one comes forward, is hired) by the Planning Commission with approval from the Selectboard for a three-year term. (See Contacts)
Zoning Board of Adjustment
Within any zoning district, a given type of development may be an “allowed” use or a “conditional” use. In the case where a proposed project is a conditional use, a “conditional use review” is conducted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment. In addition, the Zoning Board of Adjustment hears appeals from decisions of the zoning administrator, and grants or denies requests for variances. The Middlesex Zoning Board of Adjustment is made up of five members appointed by the Selectboard. (See Contacts)
The Treasurer is elected at Town Meeting to a one-year term and is responsible for keeping the town’s financial accounts, investing money received by the town (with the approval of the Selectboard), keeping a record of the taxes voted, and paying orders drawn on town accounts. The Treasurer works with the auditors to settle town accounts prior to Town Meeting, and is often called upon to provide the Selectboard with financial information. Voters may elect the same person to be both Clerk and Treasurer. (See Contacts)
Middlesex has three auditors, elected to staggered three-year terms. These officials, along with the Selectboard, review the work of a certified public accountant hired by the town to conduct the official audit, which is included in the Town Report. (See Contacts)
The Budget Committee’s three-members are elected to staggered three-year terms. Budget Committee members: follow the deliberations of the Selectboard and School Board as they develop their budgets for the following year, and ask questions and offer comments; develop or find data needed to evaluate the decisions of these boards; and report to voters (in the annual Town Report) observations and data which will be useful to voters as they consider the proposed budgets (also in the Town Report). (See Contacts)
Collector of Delinquent Taxes
It is the job of the Collector of Delinquent Taxes to notify taxpayers when their taxes are overdue, to make arrangements for late payments, or to take formal collection actions, including conducting tax sales of the property when necessary. This official must keep records of all delinquent accounts, and provide an accounting of them for the Town Report. This official is elected for a one-year term. (See Contacts)
Justices of the Peace
Although historically Justices of the Peace performed important judicial functions in towns, the tasks of today’s JPs are primarily: to administer oaths of office; to perform marriage ceremonies and civil unions; and to serve on the Board of Civil Authority. The number of justices allocated to each town is apportioned to population; Middlesex has seven justices. Because the JP position used to involve great political influence, the nominating procedure is very different from that of other town officers. Justices are nominated for office at the September political party primaries in each even-numbered year. (Independent candidates may also have their names placed on the ballot by petition.) Justices are elected biennially on the first Tuesday in November. (See Contacts)
Board of Civil Authority
The Board of Civil Authority is made up of the Selectboard, the Town Clerk, and the Justices of the Peace. The BCA is the governing body for elections. Duties of this board include assisting in elections, delivering and counting ballots, maintaining checklists and hearing tax appeals.
Listers play an important role in town government, since they determine the value of the real and personal property in the town. The Selectboard then sets a tax rate necessary to raise the money to pay for town services, the maintenance of town highways, and the schools. Each Vermont town has three listers, one of whom is elected each year for staggered three-year terms. Listers are directed by state law to appraise all taxable property in the town at 100% of the fair market value. Listers hold grievance hearings for those taxpayers who wish to contest listers’ appraisals; their decisions may be appealed to the Board of Civil Authority, and listers may appear before the board to defend the appraisals in question. The listers also serve on the Board of Tax Abatement to determine whether a taxpayer may have his or her taxes abated. (See Contacts)
The Health Officer, appointed by the Selectboard, addresses public health and safety issues such as dog bites, failing septic systems, contaminated water or unhealthy living conditions, and mental health issues. Health Officers are kept up to date by attending at least one statewide workshop each year. (See Contacts)
Town Service Officer
The Town Service Officer, appointed by the Selectboard, is charged with assisting individuals within the town who require emergency food, fuel or shelter assistance, but only when the Vermont Department of Social Welfare is closed on weekends or after hours. (In some communities, this officer also acts as an advocate for the poor.) (See Contacts)