Nahant
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Welcome to the Nahant Town Meeting Webpage

The purest form of democratic governing is practiced in a Town Meeting. In use for over 300 years and still today, it has proven to be a valuable means for many Massachusetts taxpayers to voice their opinions and directly effect change in their communities. Here in this ancient American assembly, you can make your voice heard as you and your neighbors decide the course of the government closest to you. Read more online by visiting the Citizen's Guide to Town Meetings.

William Francis Galvin

Secretary of the Commonwealth

Town Meeting is held each year and participation demands a commitment of time, energy, effort, imagination, a sense of humor, intelligence, a dose of common sense, fair play, and a deep appreciation of self-government.

The Procedures document below outlines some of the most common questions related to Town Meeting. Please feel free to contact the Nahant Town Clerk or Moderator for further information.

Town Election Information

The 2021 Annual Town Elections will be held on Saturday, April 24, 2021 at the Nahant Town Hall, Upper Hall from 7 AM until 8 PM.

Absentee Ballots Upon Request Until Tuesday April 20, 2021, 5 PM
Email or call Town Clerk’s Office - (781) 581-0018

Download a 2021 SAMPLE BALLOT Here

OFFICES FOR ELECTION 2021
Board of Selectmen: One (1) seat for a term of three (3) years
Moderator: One (1) seat for a term of one (1) year
Town Clerk: One (1) seat for a term of one (1) year
Assessor: One (1) seat for a term of three (3) years
Assessor: One (1) seat to fill an unexpired term of two (2) years
Constable: One (1) seat for a term of one (1) year
Public Library Trustee: One (1) seat for a term of three (3) years
School Committee: Two (2) seats for a term of three (3) years each
School Committee: One (1) seat to fill an unexpired term of two (2) years
School Committee: One (1) seat to fill an unexpired term of one (1) year
Planning Board: Two (2) seats for a term of five (5) years
Planning Board: One (1) seat to fill an unexpired term of three (3) years
Housing Authority: One (1) seat for a term of five (5) years

For more information on nomination papers, please email the Town Clerk;
Diane M. Dunfee
Nahant Town Clerk
(781) 581-0018
ddunfee@nahant.org

2021 Town Meeting Saturday, May 15, 2021
NHT The 2021 Annual Town Meeting will be held on Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 12 PM Outdoors on Flash Road behind the Fire Station.

Official Annual Town Meeting Notes and Election Results are also available in our Document Archive below in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format.

Saturday, May 15, 2021 - 12 Noon
The 2021 Annual Town Meeting will be held on Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 12 PM Outdoors on Flash Road behind the Fire Station.

The Last day to Register to Vote at Town Meeting is Friday, April 23, 2021. You must be a registered voter in Nahant in order to be eligible to vote on Warrant articles at the May 15, 2021 Annual Town Meeting.

If you are new to town, or you have never registered to vote, (you only have to do it once in the same community).  Check your voter Registration Status here. Registration is easy…click here to register on line with a valid MA driver’s license or a State issued ID card.

Another option is to download the voter registration form here.  After completion, you can mail it or deposit it into the Town Hall Business Mailbox that is located in front of Town Hall.

The town clerk’s office will be open from 9 AM until 8 PM by appointment.  Please contact the Town Clerk at (781) 581-0018 or ddunfee@nahant.org to schedule an appointment
.

The voter registration must be received no later than 8 PM at Town Hall, or if you register on line, no later than 11:59 PM.  Once the registration has been received by the Town Clerk’s staff, an acknowledgment letter will be mailed to you.

As always, please feel free to contact the Town Clerk’s Office with any questions or concerns you may have at 781-581-0018 or through email: ddunfee@nahant.org


Archive Of Meetings and Election Information
Visit Our Document Archive For All Town Meetings

The Nahant Town Moderator
David G. Conlin

Our Mission

The Town Moderator is the presiding officer of the Annual Town Meeting, Special Town Meetings and other meetings that he or she is requested to officiate at to ensure that order is maintained.

The moderator regulates its proceedings, decides all questions of order, declares the outcome of all votes, and has other power and duties as provided for that office by Massachusetts General Laws (see below) and Town By-laws.

The Town Moderator is an elected position with a three year term. The Town Moderator is also charged with making the following appointments:

New Item Board and Committee Appointments
Capital Committee
Finance and Advisory Committee
Insurance Committee
Johnson School Renovation Committee
Memorial Day Committee
Open Space Committee
Personnel Advisory Committee
Recreation Committee
Fourth of July Committee

Powers and Duties of the Town Moderator

Massachusetts General Laws/Chapter 39:
Moderators; Powers and Duties.
Section 15
. The moderator shall preside and regulate the proceedings, decide all questions of order, and make public declaration of all votes, and may administer in open meeting the oath of office to any town officer chosen thereat. If a vote so declared is immediately questioned by seven or more voters, he shall verify it by polling the voters or by dividing the meeting unless the town has by a previous order or by by-law provided another method. If a two thirds, four fifths or nine tenths vote of a town meeting is required by statute, the count shall be taken, and the vote shall be recorded in the records by the clerk; provided, however, that a town may decide by by-law or vote not to take a count and record the vote if a two-thirds vote of a town meeting is required by statute; and provided, further, that if the vote is unanimous, a count need not be taken, and the clerk shall record the vote as unanimous.

A town may pass by-laws, subject to this section, for the regulation of the proceedings at town meetings. Such by-laws shall be approved and published in the manner prescribed by section thirty-two of chapter forty.

In any town having a representative town meeting form of government the town meeting members shall not use the secret ballot when voting in the exercise of the corporate powers of said town or on any motion unless two thirds of the town meeting members present and voting thereon vote that a secret ballot be used.

Powers of Moderator; Preservation of Order.
Section 17. No person shall address a town meeting without leave of the moderator, and all persons shall, at the request of the moderator, be silent. If a person, after warning from the moderator, persists in disorderly behavior, the moderator may order him to withdraw from the meeting, and, if he does not withdraw, may order a constable or any other person to remove him and confine him in some convenient place until the meeting is adjourned.

Duties of Moderators; Reception of Votes.
Section 18. The moderator shall receive the vote of any person whose name is on the voting list or who presents a proper certificate from the registrars of voters.

Town Meeting Frequently Asked Questions

"Any registered voter of the Town shall have the right to speak and vote at Town Meeting sessions"
Charter of the Town of Nahant

Click on the question(s) below for the information. Click on "Back To The Top" to return to this index of questions.
1. How Do I suggest a change in what the Town is planning to spend?
2. What Motions require a Majority vote in order to pass?
3. What Motions require a 2/3 majority?
4. What motions require a ballot vote?
5. What is the Reserve Fund?
6. What is Free Cash?
7. What is Proposition 2 1/2. What does it mean for Nahant?
8. How are Fees established and what are they used for?
9. How does the Education Reform Law affect the way we run our schools?
10.There is much news about cuts in Local Aid. How does this affect Nahant?
11. How can I best participate in Town government?
 

1. How Do I suggest a change in what the Town is planning to spend?

  • "The right to submit a proposition belongs to all members (of Town Meeting) alike. There can be no monopoly on motion-making"*
  • By tradition in Nahant, as in most towns, the FinCom makes the first motion on each article, in line with the committee's recommendations which are mailed to each voter before Town Meeting. Where the FinCom is in favor of an article, the motion will spell out how the committee proposes to adopt the article. If a citizen disagrees, a motion to amend the FinCom's motion can be made.
  • Where the FinCom recommends against adoption of an article, the motion will usually be to "indefinitely postpone action on this article." If, after any discussion, a majority vote in favor of that motion, no other motions or actions will be considered in connection with that article. If a citizen disagrees, the way to overcome the FinCom's proposed indefinite postponement is to convince a majority of the voters to vote against the motion for indefinite postponement. After that motion is defeated, a new motion must be made so that the Town can take the voter's desired action on the article.
  • The Moderator will be giving clear instructions on each article. He will also respond to any point of information you may raise.
  • In general, one can speak to the motion on the floor (rules: one may not speak more than twice or for more than 10 minutes on any one motion. Of course, decorum is important. State your name and address in Town, address your remarks to the Moderator, and speaker is not to indulge in personalities*
  • The form for making an amendment: "I move the pending motion be amended by the following words__________________ "*
  • For the sake of clarity, complicated proposed amendments need to be written out.
  • Most spending is contained in the Omnibus Article. Each line will be recited. If you have any question or disagreement with any particular line item- you should yell the word "PASS" when that item is read.
  • The Town Meeting will return to discuss all "passed" items for discussion before the vote is taken on the total spending. If you wish to increase spending on any line item, you must identify the source of funds - that is what items would be reduced in order to pay for your proposed increase.

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2. What Motions require a Majority vote in order to pass?

  • Most motions require a simple majority vote to pass.
  • Motions to indefinitely postpone require a simple majority, as well as motions to amend
  • The Town Moderator will explain the requirements required to approve each motion as it is presented.

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3. What Motions require a 2/3 majority?

  • Generally, motions which will make substantial changes to citizens' property rights, e.g., motions to change the zoning bylaws, or motions which will put the Town into debt, require a two thirds vote.
  • A few motions require more than a two-thirds vote.
  • The Town Moderator will explain the requirements required to approve each motion as it is presented.

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4. What motions require a ballot vote?

  • Some motions automatically require a ballot vote, most notably a motion which would set salaries of Town employees. Other motions can be by ballot vote if the requisite number of voters want it
  • Nahant By-Laws Article II section 9: "the Meeting may order that the vote on any motion shall be taken by a "yes" or "no" ballot furnished by the Town Clerk if, on a motion so made, there shall be 25 or more votes in the affirmative."
  • The Town Moderator will explain the requirements required to approve each motion as it is presented.

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5. What is the Reserve Fund?

  • This is a fund voted by the Annual Town Meeting and controlled by the Advisory and Finance Committee for extraordinary and unforeseen expenditures incurred by Town departments during the year.

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6. What is Free Cash?

  • The amount of money left after all prior years' uncollected taxes have been deducted from surplus revenue. The amount may be used as available funds by vote of Town Meeting.

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7. What is Proposition 2 1/2. What does it mean for Nahant?

  • Proposition 2 1/2 is a State law that places a ceiling on the total amount of taxes that a Town can raise; and it also limits the percentage by which a town's tax revenues can increase from year to year. Proposition 2 1/2 has no relevance as far as tax increases on individual properties are concerned; it relates only to the total amount of taxes raised by the Town. Your Town's taxes can rise by more than 2 1/2% through:

    • Exclusions of the cost of debt or spending for capital purposes must first be approved by a two-thirds vote of the local legislative body before appearing on the ballot. The idea is that such costs are outside the regular budget for providing local services; a town may need a new school or wish to acquire land that it could not afford within its tax limits. Exclusions are limited to the life of the expenditure.
    • Overrides are permanent increases in the tax limit. An override, for a specific amount, must be approved by the municipality's legislative body and placed on the ballot for approval by the voters. No override may increase property taxes above the maximum rate of 2.5 percent of full value**

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8. How are Fees established and what are they used for?

  • The Board of Selectmen set the fees for the Town. Trash collection is a fee negotiated with the contracted haulers.
  • Water and Sewer fees cover assessments levied by MWRA for Water, Lynn Water & Sewer for sewerage. Water and Sewer fees also cover over 90% of the Department of Public Works budget. See Omnibus Article line items 81 - 101

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9. How does Education Reform Law affect the way we run our schools?

  • The Education Reform Act of 1993 sets certain standards for the components and totals of local spending on the school system and at the same time sets standards for improved student performance.
  • No town is permitted to spend less than Net School spending. The formula for Net School Spending is set by the Governor's office and the Department of Education. You are free to ask at any time whether Nahant is at or above Net School Spending.

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11. How can I best participate in Town government?

  • Nahant has a long tradition of utilizing the talents and time of its good citizens. They are often called to share in tackling interesting assignments as members of our many committees. Almost all will tell you, as your FinCom members do here, that the experience is a good one.
  • The Moderator has set up a talent/job bank and would like to see as many citizens as possible enter their names for consideration

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Sources:
* Town Meeting Time, A Handbook of Parliamentary Law
Johnson, Trustman, Wadsworth Third Edition 2001

** The Issues Book Public Policy Issues in Massachusetts
Compiled By Richard Manley Senior Fellow John W. McCormack Institute of Public Affairs, University of Massachusetts Boston

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A Note From The Advisory and Finance Committee

We are not the first, nor hopefully the last, collection of souls gathering to Nahant Annual Town Meeting, trying to reach peaceful agreement on what is best for the place we love.

For perspective, look at the following section, borrowed from Some Annals on Nahant.

"Speaking Right Out in Town Meetin' at Nahant Saturday"


Click on the picture for a larger image.

 

 

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