Representative Town Meeting
Representative Town Meeting 2023:
Brattleboro's Representative Town Meeting (RTM)
Most towns in Vermont make important decisions at an annual town meeting at which all residents may attend and vote. Brattleboro is one of Vermont's larger towns and is the only town in Vermont to hold a Representative-type of town meeting. Town meeting members discuss, debate, and vote on the town budget and on a number of other binding and non-binding policies.
There are 150 voting members at RTM, including 138 elected town meeting representatives, in addition to ex-officio members including the Selectboard, Town Clerk, Town Treasurer, Moderator, and State Representatives and State Senators that reside in Brattleboro. The total number of town meeting representatives is based on the number of registered voters per district. An elected group of five members of the Selectboard carry out the policies set at the annual town meeting.
Representative Town Meeting is held on the third Saturday after the first Tuesday in March.
HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE
There are several ways to participate in RTM
- Become a voting town meeting member: Any citizen of Brattleboro who is a registered voter may run for Town Meeting Member. There is no party affiliation to this office, and diversity or representation is important for our democratic community.
- Attend the annual Representative Town Meeting as a member of the public: You can observe the proceedings and speak your opinion, but not vote.
- Submit an article to be placed on the ballot for the town meeting. You can read the procedure How to Get an Article on the Ballot.
- Watch the town meeting live on BCTV, as it happens, or after the fact.
HOW TO BECOME A TOWN MEETING MEMBER
Petitions to be on the ballot for Town Meeting Member are available from the Town Clerk's Office starting in early December. The petition is due back in the Town Clerk's Office no later than 5:00pm on the sixth Monday preceding the elections. The date will be printed on the petition form. Town Meeting Members elected on the first Tuesday in March are eligible to vote at the Representative Town Meeting the same year. The normal term of office is three years, though there are often remainder terms to be filled. These would be for one or two-year periods depending on the length of time left on the uncompleted term. The terms are staggered so that every year fifteen or sixteen new members are elected from each district for a three-year term.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR RTM
- Pick up an then read the informational packet (usually from the Town Clerk's office, or linked on the Town's website), which is prepared for all of the Town Meeting Members, when availability is announced shortly after the first Tuesday in March. The packet contains the list of warned articles to be discussed at RTM, the town report, and other vital information for the annual meeting.
- Reach out to people in your district in order to understand their opinions on topics for voting at the Representative Town Meeting. The Districts Map shows the area of the district that you represent.
- Attend the informational meeting that explains the proposed town budget and other articles on the warning. The informational meeting for RTM has a scheduled half-hour session prior to the start of the meeting itself for district Reps to meet and the public to express their concerns on the issues and also for the district to caucus for additional members if necessary. The public is welcome to attend the informational meetings.
- Set aside a full day (possibly into early evening) and possibly part of a second day to dedicate to attending the town meeting.
- Become familiar with the Town Charter, as many RTM discussions refer to items in the charter.
- Get acquainted with Robert's Rules of order, by watching our training video, or by ordering a book such as Robert's Rules in Brief from our local bookstore.
- See our RTM Training and Information page in order to learn more about how the town meeting is put together and how it works.
ACCESSIBILITY AND MEMBER SERVICES
- Child care is provided for members on the day of the annual Representative Town Meeting (unless interrupted by COVID) for the first day of RTM. Look our the the announcement from the Town Staff about child care details, shortly before town meeting day.
- There will be ASL interpretation at all times during the Representative Town Meeting
- Contact the Town Clerk's office with any questions about accessibility.
REASONS TO PARTICIPATE IN TOWN MEETING FROM RTM MEMBERS
- "Democracy in action"
- "...representative democracy that allows real impact on local issues the few people in the country have the opportunity to experience."
- "Getting together a group to debate how to spend taxpayer money and to set a tone for how town government should work."
- "...a wonderful opportunity for discussion, dialogue, hearing and considering different and sometimes new points of view, and occasionally changing our minds through that process! I think Brattleboro is richer for having RTM."