Town meeting is just three short weeks away. The Town warrant is just about set , the budget has been proposed and the time to debate and vote is almost upon us.
The warrant is really nothing more than an agenda for what will be on the table at Town meeting.
Can the legislative body amend warrant articles? The answer of course is yes, with some conditions. What you cannot do is add new subject matter to the warrant. Amendments which add some brand new subject matter or adds a new purpose to an article that did not originally have one, violates the law. An amendment can also be illegal if it requires the governing body to do something in a way that the law does not allow.
RSA 39:2, states in part "The subject matter of all business to be acted upon at the town meeting shall be distinctly stated in the warrant, and nothing done at any meeting, except the election of any town officer required by law to be made at such meeting, shall be valid unless the subject thereof is so stated" i
This year there is Article 2 which is seeking a long term bond and the rules are a bit more complicated. The NH Municipal Association has this to say about bond warrant articles:( words in bold are mine)
"The procedure for authorizing long-term borrowing must comply with RSA 33, the Municipal Finance Act. Towns must be particularly careful to avoid errors. As the DRA puts it, “The major lending institutions, through their bond counsel, will examine the process to be sure it is not faulty.” 2012 Suggested Warrant Articles, p. 5. Bond articles for amounts in excess of $100,000 require a public hearing with newspaper publication of a notice of “the time, place and subject” of the hearing. Thus, any amendment to a bond article must satisfy not only RSA 39:2, but must also not change the “subject” for purposes of RSA 33:8-a, I. There are no Supreme Court cases on the scope of permissible amendments of a bond article. Given the level of scrutiny, amendments to bond articles should be treated conservatively. Check with bond counsel if an amendment is anticipated."
The 2016 Town Warrant can be found here.