Elections: Local Elections & Petitions
Who’s Who in Local Government
President Teddy Roosevelt said, almost a century ago that "Far
and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work
hard at work worth doing." When he included these words in his
speech at the State Fair in Syracuse, New York in 1903 he could
have been speaking of Vermont’s many hardworking local officials.
Nearly 5000 municipal officials in our 237 towns, nine cities and
45 villages, devote their free time to everything from hearing
zoning disputes and writing land use plans to assessing the value
of property in the town and collecting delinquent taxes. They
serve for the chance to "work hard at work worth doing." Without
them, our communities would not function and our system of self
government would come to a standstill.
Serving in local office is a great way to give something back
to your community. So why don’t you take a turn? Here are the
offices you can choose to from:
The Following Officials Are Elected At Town Meeting:
Moderator – Runs the Annual and Special Town/School
Meeting. Should have a good sense of humor, be good at group
process, and have experience following Roberts Rules of Order.
Town Clerk –– Records, preserves and certifies the public
records of the town, issues dog, marriage, civil union and hunting
and fishing licenses and motor vehicle renewals. Runs the local
elections, serves as clerk of the Board of Civil Authority, and
hears tax abatement requests and tax appeals. Should have the
patience of a saint and be a good ambassador for the town.
Town Treasurer - Keeps the town and school’s accounts
(unless a separate school treasurer is elected), invests money
(with the approval of the legislative body,) keeps a record of the
taxes voted and pays orders drawn on him or her. Should be very
precise, detail oriented and good at math.
Town Administrator -
Hired by the selectboard, the
town administrator, sometimes called the administrative assistant
to the selectboard, assists the selectboard in managing the
business of the town. The town administrator has no independent
statutory authority. The scope of his or her duties is determined
by the selectboard.
Selectboard members – General supervision and control over
town, enacts ordinances, regulations and policies for town,
oversees town property and personnel, prepares, presents and
manages budget, oversees roads, including laying out,
discontinuing and reclassifying roads, sits as local board of
health, liquor control commission and sewer commission. Should
know the town well, be able to understand all sides of complex
issues, and have very thick skin.
Listers – Appraise property within the town for the purpose
of property tax assessment. Should be able to be polite, yet firm,
and not oversensitive to criticism.
Auditor – Review and audit all town accounts and prepare
the annual town report. Should be very detail oriented. Good,
clear writers are a plus.
Constable – In some towns the constable is the town’s local
law enforcement officer, with all powers of search, seizure and
arrest within the town. In other towns the constable only has the
power to serve civil process, assist the health officer in the
discharge of his or her duties, destroy unlicensed dogs, kill
injured deer, remove disorderly people from town meeting, and, if
the First Constable, to collect taxes, if no tax collector is
elected. Should be good at de-escalating and resolving conflicts.
Collector of Current Taxes - Collects the taxes for the
town. In many towns this function is performed by the Treasurer or
Town Manager. Should be detail oriented and good with numbers.
Collector of Delinquent Taxes – Collects delinquent taxes
for the town. Should be good with numbers and also able to work
with people who are in difficult circumstances. Should also have
Grand Juror – Helps to prosecute criminal offenses that
occur in the town by giving information to state and local law
enforcement. (Generally not a very active position.)
Town Agent – The town agent used to prosecute and defend
suits. The selectboard now have that authority. Thus, the Town
Agent’s duty consists merely of assisting when litigation is in
progress at the request of the selectboard. (Generally not a very
Trustee of Public Funds – Manages, invests and reports on
real and personal property held in trust by the town. This
includes cemetery trust funds. Should like investing money.
Trustee of Public Money – Oversees "United States Public
Money" received under the Act of 1836 held by the town. (It is
unlikely any Vermont town still has these funds.)
Cemetery Commissioner – Responsible for the care and
management of the town’s cemeteries. If no cemetery commissioners
are elected the Selectboard fulfills this role.
Patrolmen – Patrols town highways under the direction of
the selectboard – if the town so orders. (Generally not an active
Road Commissioners – Can be elected or appointed. Has no
independent authority, but can assist the selectboard in
overseeing town highways at the request of the board. Should have
experience with town highways and be a good communicator.
Water Commissioners –Water commissioners supervise the
town’s water department by establishing water rates and all the
rules and regulations for the control and operation of the
department. Should be a good manager and detail oriented.
Planning Commissioners - Appointed unless town votes to
elect. Duties include preparing a municipal plan, making
recommendations on matters of land development, conservation, and
preservation, and to participate in a regional planning program.
Makes site plan and subdivision permit decisions unless there is a
Development Review Board in town. Should have a good working
knowledge of all aspects of the town and be able to listen to many
sides of an issue.
The Following Local
Officials are Appointed by the Legislative Body:
Municipal manager If the manager system has been adopted by
the electorate, the town manager is the official administrator of
the local government and general supervisor of the affairs of the
Zoning administrator Appointed by the planning commission
with the approval of the selectboard. Approves or denies
applications for zoning permits. Administers the municipal bylaws
literally. Enforces regulations pertaining to the zoning
Zoning board of adjustment or development review board
members–Holds hearings and makes decisions on land use permit
applications and appeals from decisions of the zoning
Regional Planning Commission Representative – Helps develop
the regional plan and assess municipal land use plans.
Conservation Commission Members – Inventory, natural
resources of a community and purchases and administers municipal
lands for the purpose of conservation.
Health Officer - Appointed by
the Commissioner of Health to a 3-year term after recommendation
by the town selectboard. Enforces the rules and regulations for
the prevention and abatement of public health hazards.
Town Services Officer - Appointed on or before April 15th of
each year. Assists individuals within the town who require
emergency food, fuel or shelter assistance when the Vermont
Department of Social Welfare is not available.
Agent to Convey Real Estate - Executes the deeds on behalf
of the town.
Poundkeeper –Cares for the animals that are impounded
within the town.
Town Energy Coordinator –Responsible for developing the
town energy plan and conducting the town energy audit.
Town Forest Fire Warden - Appointed by the fire
commissioner with the approval of the selectboard. Prevents forest
fires in the town by enforcing the laws designed to prevent forest
Chairperson for Civil Defense - responsible for the
organization, administration and operation of the local committee
that is formed for emergency management in the town or city. The
emergency management chairperson is under the direct control of
the selectboard but may coordinate his or her emergency management
efforts with neighboring towns and cities and with the state
emergency management division, and with the federal government.
Building Inspector and Deputy Inspector - Appointed only in
towns that have adopted a building code. Performs inspections and
enforces the local building code.
Fence Viewers – Three viewers are appointed by the
selectboard each year. When called up they examine fences and
other boundaries within the town.
Inspectors of Lumber – Appointed upon request to
examine, measure, and classify the quality of lumber, shingles and
wood sold within the town.
Weighers of Coal – Serves as a referee over weights of
contested loads of coal.
Inspector of Wiring – Inspects electrical wiring in
buildings on request of the selectboard.