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411 about Town Meetingt

About Town Meetings

Town meetings are a form of direct democracy.


In Massachusetts, municipalities with fewer than 6,000 residents are required to have open town meetings (SOC, nd). All eligible voters are invited to attend the annual town meetings and participate in town policymaking. Town meetings serve as a town’s legislative body; select board members and the town administrator serve as the executive branch (MMA, 2018).


A municipality must hold its annual town meeting by June 30th and may hold a second special town meeting in the fall. At annual town meetings, eligible voters authorize and appropriate annual operating and capital budgets for their town. Proposed bylaws and zoning changes are typically reviewed in the fall at special town meetings.


A town warrant or agenda approved by the select board must be published at least seven days before the annual town meeting and fourteen days before a special town meeting.

Your presence at a town meeting benefits you, the voter, because it supports:

  1. Citizen participation: Town meetings enable citizens to participate in the democratic process and make their voices heard. Every citizen has an equal say in the decisions made at these meetings.

  2. Local decision-making: Town meetings enable citizens to make decisions on issues such as zoning regulations, budget allocations, and public works projects that affect their immediate community.

  3. Transparency and accountability: Town meetings promote transparency and accountability in local government. All decisions made at the meeting are open to the public, and give citizens the opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns.

  4. Tradition: Town meetings are a longstanding tradition in Massachusetts, dating back to the colonial era. They reflect the state's commitment to democratic principles and community involvement in decision-making.


If you are nervous about attending your first town meeting, you can review the Massachusetts' Secretary of State's Citizen's Guide to Attending Town Meetings [*pdf]. This ebook covers the basics about attending town meeting and, most importantly, how to participate. For guidance about participation, please refer to pages seven through ten. Additionally, you can view prior years' town meetings on the Wrentham Cable 8 website under "government meetings"; our most recent town meeting was the November 13, 2023 Fall Town Meeting


Anyone in need of special accommodations for the Town Meeting, please contact the Office of the Select Board at 508- 384-5400 in order that reasonable accommodations may be made.

Sources: ​

Massachusetts Municipal Association. Forms of Local Government. (2018).  [*pdf]

​​Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (nd). Citizen's Guide to Town Meetings [Ebook] [*pdf]

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