Town Meetings

A town meeting is a form of direct democratic rule, used primarily in portions of the United States – principally in New England – since the 17th century, in which most or all the members of a community come together to legislate policy and budgets for local government.

Connecticut town meetings are bound to a published agenda. For example, a Town Meeting may discuss, but not alter, an article placed before them, nor may they place new items on the agenda. If a Town Meeting rejects a budget, a new Town Meeting must be called to consider the next proposed budget. State Law allows the Board of Selectmen to adopt an estimated tax rate and continue operating based on the previous budget in the event a Town Meeting has not adopted a new budget in time.

A moderator is chosen at each meeting. Pomfret’s meetings are typically held in the Pomfret Community School cafeteria. Votes are taken by voice, and if close, by show of hands. Meetings on controversial topics are often adjourned to a referendum to vote by paper ballot or machine on a date set in the near future.  Such adjournment may be initiated by the Selectmen or by a petition signed by 200 or more, or 10%, of the qualified voters and submitted to the Town Clerk at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

All registered voters of a town, and all persons owning at least $1,000 of taxable property, are eligible to participate in and vote at Town Meetings, with the exception of the election of officials.

Annual town meetings are held in the spring, and may also be known as the annual budget meeting. They were required to be held between February 1 and May 31, but Chapter 85 of the Acts of 2008 extended this window of time to June 30 (the Town fiscal year starts on July 1). At this meeting, the town takes care of any housecleaning it has left before the end of the current fiscal year, and prepares itself to enter the new fiscal year by approving a budget. It may also vote on non-budgetary issues on the warrant, including the town's general and zoning bylaws.

Special Town Meetings are held whenever necessary, usually to deal with financial or other pertinent issues that develop between Annual Town Meetings. They function the same as an Annual Town Meeting. While the Selectmen generally call such a meeting, voters may call one by petition. The number of signatures required on a petition to call a Special Town Meeting is 20 citizens qualified to vote. The Selectmen have 21 days from the date such petition is received to hold a Special Town Meeting.