Inside Winchester

Table of Contents

Winchester--Village and Town
Statistical Summary
Town Meeting
Town Government
Town Manager
Community Programs
Health Services
Town Finance
Planning, Zoning, and Building
The Public Library


The Town Hall on Mt. Vernon Street, built in 1886, is the nerve center of local government, a storehouse of records, and a source of information and guidance for townspeople. It contains not only the hall where many events and meetings take place, but most of the Town offices. These offices are open from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday.

Winchester has a Limited Town Meeting -Selectmen- Town Manager form of government. It is governed by both elected and appointed officers. Winchester voters go to the polls in March to elect:

	Town Meeting Members
	Board of Selectmen
	School Committee
	Board of Assessors
	Board of Library Trustees
	Moderator of Town Meeting
	Planning Board
	Housing Authority
	Board of Health
	Regional Vocational School Board Representative

Board of Selectmen (Five members, 3-year term, no salary)

The executive authority of the Town is vested in the Board of Selectmen. It is the responsibility of the Selectmen to see that the laws and orders of the Town are enforced and that official records are kept. They have broad appointive powers and are the licensing authority of the Towns. The Board is the policy-making body except for those policy matters reserved to Town Meeting.

The Board of Selectmen appoints the Town Manager as the chief administrative officer of the Town. The Manager is responsible to the Board and may be removed by them at any time, without cause.

It is the responsibility of the Selectmen to coordinate the operation of all boards and officers, even those also elected by the voters.

The Selectmen lay out streets for acceptance as public ways. They prepare the Warrant, publish the Reports of Town Officers and call the Town Meeting. Regular Town Meeting is called in the fall and in the spring. If necessary, Special Town Meetings may be called by the Selectmen. Because of the Municipal Collective Bargaining Act of 1965, The Board has been legally constituted as the authority to bargain with all organized groups not under the jurisdiction of the School Committee. The Board and the Town Manager jointly conduct these sessions, with the advice of the Personnel Board and the assistance of a professional bargainer from time to time.

In short, The Board of Selectmen has the general responsibility for the health and welfare of the Town.

Each year one of the members is elected Chairman. The Chair then appoints other members to serve as liaison with various boards and committees. By custom, the Selectmen meet each Monday evening in the Town Hall. By state law, these meeting and those of all other Town boards are open to the public. Approved minutes of all such meetings are on file at the Public Library.

The Board of Selectmen appoints the following:

Town Council (One-year term, with salary)

Town Counsel attends to the legal affairs of the Town and serves as legal advisor to its officers and committees. He or she represents the Town or any board in all legal matters, including court cases.

Town Comptroller (Three-year term, with salary)

The duties and responsibilities of the Comptroller are described in the Chapter on Town Finance.

Registrar of Voters (Three members, three-year terms, with salary)

In addition to registering all voters, the Registrars verify all signatures on nomination papers or petitions. The Town Clerk is a member of the Board, ex-officio. The Board of Selectmen also appoints the other elections officers-- the wardens, clerks inspectors, and tellers at the polls.

Commissioners of Trust Funds (Three Members, three-year terms, no salary)

The Commissioners supervise the investment of various funds left to the Town over the years. As of 1984, the collective funds amounted to $1,200,000.

Conservation Commission (Seven members, three-year terms, no salary)

The Commission is concerned with the preservation of the open spaces remaining in Winchester and with the protection of our natural resources and wetlands. It negotiates with landowners to purchase land or to obtain easement on parcels of land. Town Meeting must approve all purchases and vote funds for the Commission. In some instances the Town receives partial reimbursement from state or federal funds. The Commission holds public hearings on all proposals for development within 100 feet of a resource area or 200 feet from a river. The Commission also comments on proposals before the planning Board for site plan approval.

The Conservation Commission derives its authority from state environmental legislation, the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and from the local Winchester Wetlands Bylaw.

The Commission has long been interested in acquiring areas along waterways to establish a green belt and has recently acquired its largest parcel, 35 acres of Winning Farm which is located on the Winchester, Lexington and Woburn borders.

Retirement Board (Three members, three year terms, no salary)

The Retirement Board administers the mandatory, contributory retirement plan under which all town employees--except the professional personnel at the School Department-are covered. There are three members: the Town Comptroller, a Town employee elected by fellow employees, and a public member chosen by the first two or appointed by the Selectmen.

Board of Appeals (Three members, three-year terms, no salary)

The function of this board is detailed in the chapter on Planning, Zoning, and Building.

Personnel Board (Seven members, three-year terms, no salary)

Members are appointed by a committee consisting of the Town Meeting Moderator, The Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, and the Chairman of the School Committee. There is a specification that members of the Personnel Board hold no other Town office. The Board was established in 1957, "to act as a central authority for personnel problems, wage and salary adjustments and job classification; also to provide for continued study and investigation of these matters." The present Personnel Board continues to conduct research and coordinate collective bargaining activities with all organized groups except those under the jurisdiction of the School Committee.

After the Town Manager submits to the Board a compensation plan and personnel policy guide, the Board formulates its own recommendations, attaches the Town Manager's report and holds a public hearing.

The Personnel Board reports to Town Meeting members on all Warrant articles pertaining to personnel matters before the Members vote on the articles.

Other Committees

Some of the other permanent committees appointed by the Selectmen are:

		Town Forest Committee
		Historical Commission
		Council on Aging
		Fair Housing Committee

Members are appointed for various terms and serve without pay.

Click here for the government page.

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