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 the members of a community come together to legislate policy and budgets for local government. This is a town- or city-level meeting where decisions are made, in contrast with town hall meetings held by state and national politicians to answer questions from their constituents, which have no decision-making power.
Town Meeting Day in Vermont (the first Tuesday in March) is a state holiday. Most organized towns operate under the general statutes requiring an annual town meeting on that day or, optionally, on preceding days if the voters so choose. The purpose of town meeting is to elect municipal officers, approve annual budgets and conduct any other business. Many towns vote on matters of substance (e.g., budgets, elected officials, etc.) by secret ballot (also known as Australian ballot). However, there is no state law that requires towns to vote by Australian ballot; The Town of Cambridge still conducts all business “from the floor”.
The Cambridge Community Engagement Team (CET) was a committee created by the Selectboard, at the request of the community at Town Meeting Day 2017, to address community engagement issues raised at the meeting. The committee met, addressed perceived issues, and issued a report with recommendations to the Selectboard.
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