The Board of Selectmen has six specific areas of authority that
are quite important to the town. These include:
The power to prepare the town meeting warrant and call town
meetings. Voters at town meeting make most important
decisions for the town, including setting budgets and passing
bylaws. The Board of Selectmen decides what is put on the
warrant for voter consideration.
The power to make appointments to town boards and
The Board of Selectmen makes appointments of dozens of individuals
to an array of positions, boards and committees. The Board of
Selectmen seeks to ensure that the appointment process is open and
fair. Appointments are generally made by the board in June of
each year and when vacancies occur.
The power to employ town counsel.
No town official can be defended, nor can he or she bring suit
through the town counsel without the Board of Selectmen's
approval. Town counsel must also approve any agreement that
binds the town legally. This does not apply to the school
committee, which has specific authorization to employ and select
its own counsel.
The power to employ professional administrative staff.
The complexity of running even a small town can be overwhelming to
a part-time Board of Selectmen. Once authorized by town
meeting, a professional administrator can assist in this
The power to sign warrants for the payment of all town
The Town Treasurer cannot issue a check unless the Board of
Selectmen signs a warrant of authorization. This affects the town's
payroll as well as payments to all other vendors. Department
heads and other boards and commissions may approve whatever they
choose, but without Board of Selectmen approval, the bills cannot
be paid. This gives the Board of Selectmen an important role
in overseeing the operation of the town.
The authority to grant licenses and permits.
The Board of Selectmen is the local licensing authority, issuing
licenses for things such as sale of alcoholic beverages,
entertainment, automobile dealers, pool tables and the like. These
are subject to an annual renewal process that generally occurs in
Besides these strict legal responsibilities, the Board of
Selectmen plays an important role in coordinating the policy and
strategic direction of the town. This can occur in many ways,
including coordination of other boards activities, hearing appeals
and resolving problems that are not resolved at lower levels, and
offering direction to their professional administrator if
employed. Members of the Board of Selectmen are the chief
elected officers of the town and the tone of its behavior often
sets the overall tone of town government.
The Town of Goshen has a three-member Board of Selectmen with
staggered three-year terms so that each year a member's term
expires and the townspeople select someone to serve in this