North Andover’s Annual Town Meeting will be held on Thursday June 17, 2021 at 6pm outdoors at the North Andover High School Joe Walsh Stadium Football Field.
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For more details visit: https://www.northandoverma.gov/town-meeting
NORTH ANDOVER TOWN MEETING
SIMPLIFIED RULES OF PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE
The purpose of Town Meeting is to establish and update the By-laws, operational policies, budgets and land use rules that govern our Town. North Andover’s Open Town Meeting has been in force as our form of government since 1646. It represents the purest form of democracy in that every vote truly counts. Each registered voter is guaranteed an equal voice in the decisions made by the Meeting. In order to protect the sanctity of that vote, the North Andover Town Charter empowers the Town Moderator to establish the rules of Procedure under which Town Meeting is to be conducted. These rules are historically based on the traditions established by generations of North Andover citizens and by other New England communities, acting as legislators of their local governments.
Specific parliamentary rulings and conduct are governed by the Moderator, using Massachusetts General Laws, the North Andover Charter, North Andover By-Laws, and local tradition as guidelines. The passing of each Town Meeting adds to the rich history – and changes – to that practice and tradition that helps guide future Moderators and meetings. Please know that “Roberts’ Rules of Order” are not applied and have no bearing on conduct of our meeting. Past Moderators have utilized the book “Town Meeting Time: A Handbook of Parliamentary Law”, published by the Massachusetts Moderators’ Association, to provide guidance for unusual situations and I have elected to utilize that resource when appropriate.
Town Meetings across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are similar, but not identical, in the way they are conducted. Local traditions can significantly affect a town’s proceedings and help define the role and latitude of the Moderator. At North Andover Town Meetings we will endeavor to present all necessary information in an efficient and timely manner so that the most clarity can be afforded to voters, enabling them to make informed decisions. Voters, in turn, have a unique responsibility. Not only must they express, by vote, the decisions made based upon their own judgment and perspective, but also be cognizant of the effect their vote and/or decision has on all citizens of North Andover.
There are ten simple rules of procedure for North Andover Town Meeting:
- The first action required after the announcement of any Article on the Meeting’s Warrant is that a Main Motion be proposed. The citizen sponsor of an article, Town Board sponsor, or Town Board with an affirmative recommendation, are likely movers of a main motion. The initial motion for the Town budget will be made by the Finance Committee. Any Town Board or voter may amend the motion for consideration and deliberation of the meeting. All motions must be seconded by a voter other than the person offering the main motion and only then can discussion and debate begin.
- Any voter wishing to address the meeting must first gain the attention of the Moderator when no other speaker has the floor. Public microphones are to be utilized, where a speaker seeking to be recognized, being courteous to others and those next in line, will call out to be heard by addressing the Moderator. Speakers must introduce themselves using their full name and street address each time speaking at a session of Town Meeting. Once recognized by the Moderator, a speaker is given a turn to speak for up to Two (2) minutes and must address the meeting only on the article currently under discussion. Voters not doing so or speaking in a disrespectful fashion may be suspended from speaking on the matter at the discretion of the Moderator. Additional time can be granted by assent of the meeting, by prior arrangement with the Moderator, and at the discretion of the Moderator. Questions are welcome, as well as statements endorsing a position. A voter with a question will take precedence over anyone stating an opinion of support or non-support for an article.
- Any person who has a financial interest in any article under discussion shall make a disclosure of that interest before speaking. Any person who is a spouse, parent, grandparent, child, brother, sister, or in-law of a person who has a financial interest in an article shall also disclose such relationship before speaking. The employment, whether paid or unpaid, of any person acting as an attorney, engineer, architect, land surveyor, broker, consultant, agent or in any other capacity by a person interested in the article under discussion, shall be disclosed before that person speaks. Violation of such disclosure, or refusal to disclose the required information, if asked, shall result in revocation of the speaker’s right to be heard on the matter then before Town Meeting. Disclosure is not generally required of voters who are utilizing and/or are beneficiaries of Town services such as, for example, public safety, public works and public utilities, or parents of children in public schools. However, if the speaker has a personal financial interest beyond what is reasonably available to all eligible citizens, disclosure is required.
- Town employees and/or appointed or elected officials are required to identify their position and whether or not they are speaking in an official capacity. Such identification shall satisfy the disclosure requirement unless there is a specific matter under discussion that does not involve their official capacity as an employee, appointed or elected official. A blanket initial identification, upon the first opportunity to speak, is acceptable for each session of the meeting unless the individual is not speaking in an official capacity. In such case, the speaker shall be compelled to make a disclosure.
- All remarks should be addressed to and through the Moderator, for the benefit of all attendees. Direct questioning of others is not permitted. Questions may be directed, through the Moderator, to any petitioner, speaker or official and, if determined germane by the Moderator, the person asked will have the immediate opportunity to answer should they choose.
- An amendment changing or limiting the main motion can be offered during the course of debate. The Moderator may rule an amendment out of order if it is beyond the scope of the warrant article. The Moderator will redirect the discussion to consider the proposed amendment once it is properly before the meeting. Specific wording of any proposed amendment must be made available in writing to the Moderator and Town Clerk before it can be considered. The party proposing such motion shall concisely state, to the meeting, the consequence of the amendment on the existing main motion and/or article being considered. Should further reference or context be necessary to provide the meeting with full understanding of the amendment then this shall be allowed at the Moderator’s discretion.
- Respectful deliberation and debate are fundamental to Town Meeting. The Moderator may seek to establish a time limit on a specific article as a guide to the meeting in order to budget time and discussion. The Moderator will discourage repetitious statements. In due course it will become apparent that sufficient information has been presented and voters are ready to make their decision and the Moderator shall so rule. Motions to move the question to a vote are in order and are not generally subject to debate. A motion to move the question requires a 2/3 vote for approval. At the Moderator’s discretion, such motion may not be allowed and/or may be subject to debate, particularly if the motion to close debate would restrict informed consideration of the entire meeting and/or comes before an appropriate discussion has taken place on the main motion.
- Votes are taken by two methods – voice (“Ayes” and “Nays”), or a counted vote (“show of hands”) – and declared to be complete by the Moderator when results are announced. The Moderator is empowered to make declaration of two-thirds (2/3), four-fifths (4/5), or other majority. If the determination of a voice vote is doubted, a request by at least seven (7) voters, either rising or standing in place, will mandate the Moderator to request a counted vote. Issues requiring a two-thirds (2/3), four-fifths (4/5), or other majority will be clearly identified to the meeting at the time the article is presented and again at the time of the vote. Articles that require greater than majority votes may be taken by voice and/or a limited counted vote for the efficient conduct of the meeting.
- There may be no distribution of handouts, signage or other collateral within the confines of the meeting place at any time, whether while gathering together or during conduct of the Town Meeting. Handouts or other illustrative materials may be distributed outside the meeting hall before the check-in stations or placed on the table reserved for such materials by the Town Clerk. It is strongly encouraged that all materials clearly state the author and/or person(s) responsible for the content of the material.
For more details visit: https://www.northandoverma.gov/town-meeting