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Chapter 1 Town Charter

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:


This act shall be submitted for acceptance to the qualified voters of the town of Holden at the first annual town election after passage of this act, or at a special town election called for the purpose not less than ninety days before the date of said annual election.  The vote shall be taken by ballot in accordance with the provisions of the General Laws, so far as the same shall be applicable, in answer to the question, which shall be placed upon the ballot to be used at said election -- "Shall an act passed by the General Court in the year nineteen hundred and fifty-one, entitled "An act to establish the selectmen-town manager form of governement in the town of Holden be accepted by the town?"  If a majority of the voters on this question shall vote in the affirmative, said act shall take effect immediately for the purposes of the next following annual town election, and for all things relating thereto, and shall take full effect beginning with said election.  It shall be the duty of all town officials having duties to perform with respect to elections and holding office at the time of acceptance to do, in compliance with law, all things necessary for the nomination and election of officers first to be elected under this act.  If this act is rejected when so submitted, it shall be submitted for the second time at the next following annual town election, and if accepted shall take effect as hereinbefore provided.  If this act is again rejected when so submitted for the second time, it shall aagain be submitted at the next following annual town election, and if accepted shall take effect as hereinbefore provided.  If this act is again rejected when so submitted for the third time, it shall thereupon become void.


Any by-laws in force in the town of Holden at the time of acceptance of this act, in so far as they are consistent with the provisions thereof, shall not be affected thereby; but any such bylaws,  or portions thereof, inconsistent therewith shall be null and void.


No contract existing and no action at law or suit in equity or other proceeding pending at the time this act is accepted or at the time of revocation of such acceptance shall be affected by such acceptance or revocation.


At the first annual town election following acceptance of this act, and annually thereafter, the registered voters shall continue to elect a moderator, selectmen, town and district school committees and trustees of Damon Memorial, and, unless otherwise provided by by-law, the moderator shall continue to appoint a finance committee and board of appeals.  The term of office of any office, board or commission so continued shall not be interrupted.  Every other elective or appointive office, board of commission shall be terminated as hereinafter provided, any other provisions of the law to the contrary notwithstanding.

The term of office of any person elected to any office, board of commission existing at the time of such acceptance and terminated hereunder shall continue until such following town election and until the appointment and qualification of his successor, if any, and thereafter the said office, boards or commissions shall be abolished and all powers, duties and obligations conferred or imposed thereon by law, except as hereinafter provided, shall be conferred and imposed upon the selectmen and exercised by the town manager.


The selectmen shall appoint and may remove a town manager as hereinafter provided, constables, election officers, and registrars of voter except the town clerk.


Nothing in this act shall be construed to affect the powers and duties of the town or district school committees as provided by law, provided, however, that either of said committees may make an agreement with the selectmen whereby the town manager shall be assigned responsibility for the maintenance or repair of school buildings or grounds, the purchase of any supplies or equipment, or the preparation of any plans for construction or improvement of school buildings or property or supervision of such work.


The board of trustees of Damon Memorial shall have and exercise all of the powers, duties and obligations conferred or imposed by law on trustees of town libraries or by the terms of any gift or bequest applicable to such board, provided, however, that the town manager shall exercise and perform such duties relative to the administration and management of the public library, the Damon Memorial and its property as may be agreed upon between said board and the selectmen.


The town clerk, town accountant, town treasurer, town collector, planning board, town assessors, and trustees of trust funds shall possess all the powers and rights and be subject to all the duties and liabilities specifically conferred or imposed upon them by any provision of law, but in the performance of their duties they shall be subject to the general supervision and direction of the town manager.  They shall be sworn to the faithful performance of their duties by the chairman of the selectmen.


A member of the board of selectmen, or the town school committee, or of the finance committee shall, during the term for which he was elected or appointed, be ineligible either by election or appointment to hold any other town office.  Any other person appointed by the town manager to any town office under the provisions of this act or of any general or special law shall be eligible during the term of said office to election or appointment to any other town office, except that the town accountant shall not be eligible to hold the position of town treasurer or the position of town collector.  The town manager, subject to any applicable provision of the General Laws relating thereto, may assume the duties of any office which he is authorized to fill by appointment.


The selectmen shall appoint, as soon as practicable, for a term of not exceeding three years, a town manager who shall be a person especially fitted by education, training and experience to perform the duties of the office.  He need not be a resident of the town or of this commonwealth, when appointed, and shall not during the twelve months prior to his appointment have held any elective office in the town of Holden, but shall reside in the town during his term of office.  He may be appointed for successive terms of office.  Before entering upon the duties of the office, the town manager shall be sworn to the faithful and impartial performance thereof by the chairman of the selectmen.  He shall execute a bond in favor of the town for the faithful performance of his duties in such sum and with surety or sureties as may be fixed or approved by the selectmen.


Pending the appointment of a town manager of the filling of any vacancy, the selectmen shall appoint a suitable person to perform the duties of the office.


The selectmen, by a majority vote of the full membership of the board, may remove the town manager.  Thirty days before such proposed removal shall become effective, the selectmen shall file a preliminary written resolution with the town clerk setting forth in detail the specific reasons for his proposed removal, a copy of which resolution shall be delivered to the town manager.  The manager, in writing within thirty days from the filing of said resolution, may request a public hearing.  If the manager so requests, the board of selectmen shall hold a public hearing not earlier than twenty days nor later than thirty days following receipt of such request.  After such public hearing, if any, otherwise at the expiration of thirty days following the filing of the preliminary resolution, and after full consideration, the selectmen by a majority vote of the full membership of the board may adopt a final resolution of removal.  In the preliminary resolution, the selectmen may suspend the manager from duty, but shall in any case cause to be paid to him forthwith any accrued salary, and may, at their discretion, pay his salary for a period not exceeding three months following the filing of the preliminary resolution.


The town manager shall receive such compensation, not exceeding the amount appropriated therefor, as the selectmen shall determine.


In addition to specific powers and duties provided in this act, the town manager shall have the general powers and duties enumerated in this section:

(a) The town manager shall supervise and direct the administration of all departments, commissions, boards and offices of the town, except those elected by the voters, or appointed by the selectmen or by the moderator.

(b) The town manager, in accordance with the provisions of this act and except as otherwise expressly prohibited by the General Laws, may reorganize, consolidate or abolish department commissions, boards of offices under his direction and supervision, in whole or in part, may establish such new department, commissions, boards or offices as he deems necessary, and in so doing, may transfer the duties, powers and appropriation of one department, commission, board or office to another.

(c) Except as otherwise provided by this act, the town manager shall appoint upon merit and fitness alone, and subject to the provisions of chapter thiry-one of the General Laws where applicable, may remove a town accountant, a town clerk, a town collector, a town treasurer who may act as town collector, a town counsel, a welfare agent, a planning board and assessors.  He may in like manner appoint and remove such other officers and employees as he deems necessary to carry out the powers and duties imposed upon him by this act.  Permanent officers and employees not subject to the provisions of said chapter thirty-one shall not be removed by the town manager except on five days' notice in writing, setting forth the cause of such removal.

(d) The town manager shall fix the compensation of all town officers and employees appointed by him, subject to any applicable provisions of chapter thirty-one and, if adopted, of section one hundred and eight A of chapter forty-one of the General Laws.

(e) The town manager shall attend all regular meetings of the board of selectmen except meetings at which his removal is being considered.

(f) The town manager shall keep full and complete records of his office and shall render as often as may be required by the selectmen a full report of all operations during the period reported.

(g) The town manager shall keep the selectmen fully advised as to the needs of the town and shall recommend to the selectmen for adoption such measures requiring action by them or by the town as he may deem necessary or expedient.

(h) The town manager shall have jurisdiction over and be responsible for the planning, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, improvement, use and rental of all town property except as hereinbefore provided with respect to schools and the Damon Memorial, and except as otherwise specifically voted by the town.  

(i) Except as otherwise provided by this act, the town manager shall purchase all supplies, materials and equipment, and shall award all contract for all departments and activities of the town.

(j) The town manager shall administer, either directly or through a person or persons appointed by him in accordance with this act, all provisions of general and specific laws applicable to said town, all by-laws and all regulations by the selectmen.

(k) The town manager shall, with the approval of the selectmen, have the authority to prosecute, defend and compromise all litigation to which the town is a party, and to employ special counsel whenever in his judgment it may be necessary.

(l) The town manager shall perform such other duties, consistent with his office, as may be required of him by the by-laws or vote of the town or by vote of the selectmen.

(m) The town manager shall have access to all town books and papers for information necessary for the proper performance of his duties, and may without notice cause the affairs of any department or activity under his control or the conduct of any officer or employee appointed by him to be examined.


Notwithstanding the provisions of section two of chapter thirty B of the General Laws, the town manager shall be the chief procurement officer for the town and all its boards, agencies, departments and instrumentality's, excepting only the school department, and the superintendent of schools shall be the chief procurement officer for the school department; and, subject to the provisions of this section, the town manager and the superintendent of schools shall each have all the powers and authority of a chief procurement officer under said chapter thirty B.


The town manager shall, by letter to the town clerk, designate, subject to the approval of the selectmen, a qualified officer of the town to perform his duties during his temporary absence or disability.  In the event the town manager fails to make such designation, the selectmen shall so designate a qualified town officer to perform the duties of the town manager until he shall return or his disability shall cease.


The town manager shall be the chief fiscal officer of the town.  Warrants for the payment of town funds prepared by the town accountant in accordance with the provisions of section fifty-six of chapter forty-one of the General Laws shall be submitted to the town manager. The approval of any such warrant by the town manager shall be sufficient authority to authorize payment by the town treasurer, but the selectmen shall approve all warrants in the event of the absence of the town manager or a vacancy in the office of the town manager.


Whenever any payroll, bill or other claim against the town is presented to the town manager he shall, if the same seems to him to be of doubtful validity, excessive in amount, or otherwise contrary to the interests of the town, refer it to the selectmen, who shall immediately investigate the facts and determine what payment, if any, should be made.  Pending such investigation and determination by the selectmen, payment shall be withheld.


It shall be unlawful for any selectman, the town manager or any other elective or appointive official of the town, directly or indirectly, to make a contract with the town, or to receive any commission, discount, bonus, gift, contribution or reward from, or any share in the profits of, any person or corporation making or performing such a contract,  unless the official concerned, immediately upon learing of the existence of such contract, or that such a contract is proposed, shall notify the selectmen in writing of the contract and of the nature of his interest therein and shall abstain from doing any official act on behalf of the town in reference thereto.  In case such interest exists on the part of an officer whose duty it is to make such a contract on behalf of the town, the contract may be made by another officer of the town duly authorized thereto by vote of the selectmen.  Violation of any provision of this section shall render the contract in respect to which such violation occurs voidable at the option  of the town.


All officers, boards and commissions of the town shall submit to the town manager in writing detailed estimates of appropriations required for the efficient and proper conduct of their respective departments and offices and such further information, in such form and at such times as the manager may require.  On or before the fifteenth day of February* of each year the town manager shall prepare and submit to the finance committee a budget for the ensuing year and all supplementary information in such form and detail as they deem necessary or the town may require by by-law.


For the purpose of making investigations or surveys the selectmen or the town manager may expend such sums for the employment of experts, counsel and other assistants, and for other expenses in connection therewith, as the town may appropriate for such purposes.


At any time after the expiration of three years from the date of acceptance of this act, a petition signed by not less than ten per cent of the registered voters of the town may be filed with the selectmen, requesting that the question of revoking the acceptance of this act be submitted to the voters at the following annual town election.  The selectmen shall thereupon direct the town clerk to cause the said question to be printed on the official ballot to be used at the next annual town election in the following form: "Shall the acceptance by the town of Holden of an act passed by the General Court in the year nineteen hundred and fifty-one, entitled 'An Act to establish the selectmen-town manager form of government in the town of Holden', be revoked?" If such renovation is favored by a majority of the voters voting thereon, this act shall cease to be operative beginning with the next annual town election, except as hereinafter provided.  All general laws relative to town government and town officers shall thereupon apply to the town of Holden, and any special laws relative to said town, the operation of which has been suspended or superseded by acceptance of this act, shall be revived by such revocation.  By-laws in force when such revocation takes effect, so far as they are consistent with special laws relating to said town, shall not be affected thereby, but any other bylaws inconsistent with such general or special laws shall become null and void.  If such revocation is not favored by a majority of the voters voting thereon, no further petition therefor shall be filed under this section oftener than once in every three years thereafter.

House of Representatives, June 11, 1951.
Passed to be enacted,
Robert F. Murphy, Acting Speaker.

In Senate, June 12, 1951.
Passed to be enacted,
Richard I. Furbush, President.

June 14, 1951.                                          Paul A. Dever, Governor

*Amended by Chapter 679 of the Acts of 1973
**Amended by Chapter 68 of the Acts of 1991

Town of Holden 1204 Main Street, MA 01520
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