Role of the Board of Selectmen:
Under Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA) 41:8-b the composition of the Board of Selectmen can be three (3) or five (5) members. New Durham’s Board of Selectmen is composed of a three-member board.
In large part, the Board of Selectmen function as an executive branch or as a Board of Directors, and as agents to carry out the voted actions of the Town of New Durham’s legislative branch also known as “Town Meeting.” The Board’s grant of power comes explicitly from the State Legislature there is no “Home Rule” contrary to popular belief. The Board can only exercise those powers specifically granted by Statute, ordinance or by-law or those powers that are within the authority of their office.
RSA 41:8 provides that the Selectmen manage the “prudential” affairs of the town prudential affairs role can be interpreted as carrying out the details of town meeting votes e.g. authorization to spend money, sign deeds, appoint new officials, compose legal ordinances and policies, enter into contractual agreements.
The Board acts as a collegial body in making decisions and conduct of town business. One Selectman has no authority and a unanimous decision is not required for board actions. However under RSA 91-A all business, except those situations specially exempted under RSA 91-A: 3 II a-e, must be conducted in a public session with a duly posted notice to the Citizens.
The Board cannot interfere with the exercise of functions, which, by statute are delegated to other elected officials. However, the Selectmen, in the exercise of their budgeting, spending and safeguarding authority, have the right to obtain information from elected officials, to hire personnel and set salaries (subject to appropriation by town meeting), to approve purchasing of supplies, and to set rules governing the safeguarding of all municipal property and financial assets RSA 41:9 VI.
In addition to managing the prudential affairs, the Selectmen have other substantive duties, again prescribed by law, but do not require Town Meeting vote, namely:
- Regulation of Municipal Highways and Commons RSA 41:11
- Layout of Highways RSA 231: 8-19
- Order Repair or demolition of Hazardous & Dilapidated Buildings RSA 155-B
- Junkyard Licensing RSA 236:111-129
- Health Regulations RSA 147
- Abatement Requests RSA 76
- Appointments For Vacant positions
- Setting Fees providing Town Meeting has adopted RSA 41:9
- Establish and amend local Welfare Guidelines
- Financial Accounting and Safeguarding
- Election Duties: under RSA 658:9-a, the Board is responsible for the physical set up of the polling place for town elections.
- Property Appraisal Taxation: Selectmen are responsible to assure that all taxable property in town is inventoried, and appraised and that a warrant is issued to the tax collector for the collection of such taxes RSA 75 & 76
- Litigation: The Board works to resolve claims that may be made against the town and it’s departments with the able assistance of town counsel.
The Role of a Selectman is varied and takes time to know the areas of required knowledge and interaction with other town boards and committees. This is why many communities have Town Administrators to assist the board in carrying out their “prudential affairs” and carrying out the day-to-day operations of local municipal government.
|Scott Kinmond||Town Administrator||(603) 859-2091|
|Cecile Chase||Member (2020)|
|Dorothy Veisel||Member (2021)|
|David Swenson||Chair (2022)|