Now that the General Election has been decided, Locals must now turn their attention to Town Meetings and budget season, as the actions taken there will impact them greatly. The PFFNH encourages all of its Locals to stay on top of these dates, the effects of all warrant artcles, and obviously, the operating budget of their communities.
Locals are encouraged to contact their District Vice President for assistance.
For a list of important dates on Town meetings and the relevant RSA governing Town meetings, please go to the Secretary of State's website :
Page 14 begins the relevant sections for Traditional Town meetings
Page 16 begins the relevant sections for SB 2 Towns
In New Hampshire, towns, cities, unincorporated places, villages, and school districts have the option of two main types of annual meeting: Traditional meetings or ballot-vote meetings, known informally as "SB 2" or "Senate Bill 2." Each community can choose the form of meeting they prefer.
Traditional town meetings
Traditional Town Meetings, or Open Meetings, are held annually on the second Tuesday of March to choose town officers and the transaction of all other town business. Town selectmen are also permitted to call special town meetings as warranted, although these must be approved by a judge. Town meetings are prohibited, by state law, from being held on the biennial election day, which is typically held in November to elect county, state and national officials.
A town moderator is allowed under state law to adjourn a meeting that has run for a very long period and reconvene it at a later date, usually one week from the date of the meeting, and usually in the same location, in order to finish the town's business.
Official ballot referendums (SB 2)
The SB 2 form of government was instituted by the state legislature in 1995 because of concerns that modern lifestyles had made it difficult for people to attend traditional town meetings. Residents vote in an SB 2 election at a polling place throughout the day. They may also vote by absentee ballot. Municipalities that have adopted the SB 2 form of government may switch back to the traditional town meeting form by a 3/5 majority vote.
Under SB 2, a first session, called a "Deliberative Session," is held about a month prior to the town election. This session is similar in many ways to the traditional town meeting. However, unlike the town meeting, while the wording and dollar amounts of proposed ballot measures may be amended, no actual voting on the merits of the proposals takes place. The second session, held on a set election day, is when issues such as the town's budget and other measures, known as warrant articles, are voted upon.
When adopting SB 2, towns or school districts may hold elections on the second Tuesday in March, the second Tuesday in April, or the second Tuesday in May. The election dates may be changed by majority vote. If a vote is taken to approve the change of the local elections, the date becomes effective the following year.
In 2002, according to the University of New Hampshire Center for Public Policy studies, 171 towns in New Hampshire held traditional town meetings, while 48 had SB 2 meetings. Another 15 municipalities, most of them incorporated cities, had no annual meeting. The study found that 102 school districts held traditional town meetings, 64 had SB2 meetings, and 10 had no annual meeting.
Because traditional-meeting communities tend to be smaller, only one-third of the state's population was governed by traditional town meetings in 2002, and only 22 percent by traditional school-district meetings.