Open Meeting Law & Ethics

Certain Provisions of the Open Meeting Law

Open Meeting Law Guide

Resources for Belmont's Boards, Committees and Commissions

On July 17, 2018, members of Belmont's boards, committees and commissions were invited to Open Meeting Law and Campaign Finance Law training. The training was conducted by Town Counsel on the facets of the Open Meeting Law and the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance in context of ballot questions.

Every year in June, seats in the Belmont Boards and Committees are open for appointment by the Select Board or Town Moderator. Typically the term for these seats is three-years; however there may be one year or two year terms due to early resignations.

Although volunteers are not compensated, the Select Board places a high value on committee contributions, and recognizes the critical role that committees play in shaping Belmont’s future.

Both the Select Board and the Town Moderator look for Belmont residents with a variety of talents and backgrounds who are willing to make the commitment to serving on a committee. Residents with no past committee service, past committee members, and current committee members interested in re-appointment are all encouraged to apply.

Any person appointed to serve will have to appear in person to the Town Clerk’s office to be sworn in and will have to fill out a contact information sheet. The Town Clerk suggests that at least one method of contact be publicly accessible in the event a resident needs to contact the board or committee. Appointees are also given the Open Meeting Law guide, Public Records Law definitions, and the Conflict of Interest (Ethics) Summary. See below for details.

If you are interested in serving on a Belmont board or committee, please contact the Selectmen’s office at (617) 993-2610.

Open Meeting Law, Ethics & Info For Elected & Appointed Officials

To ask specific questions about the Open Meeting Law or to report a violation, click here.

Newly elected or appointed officials must appear in person at the Town Clerk's office to be administered the oath of office (swearing in) before participating in any meeting requiring a vote. For new Town Meeting Members, the oath of office is administered at the Town Meeting or following a successful caucus and a Town Meeting Member Handbook is distributed.

An example of the general oath follows:

Do you solemnly affirm that you will uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the By-Laws of the Town of Belmont and you will impartially perform the duties of  ______to which you have been duly elected (appointed), keeping uppermost in your mind what is best for the Town of Belmont and its inhabitants.

At the time of the swearing in of elected officials and all members of boards, committees and commissions, the following materials are distributed and a confirmation receipt is signed and filed with the Town Clerk:

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Open Meeting Law is distributed or referred for online access. Among other items, it covers posting requirements for open meetings, executive session requirements, appropriate conduct and recording requirements for minutes. Effective July 1, 2010, responsibility for the state-wide enforcement of the Open Meeting Laws, relative to local, county, regional, and state public bodies has been centralized in the office of the Attorney General.
  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Ethics (Conflict of Interest) Laws is distributed and referred for online access.
  • The Ethics (Conflict of Interest) Summary is distributed and referred for online access. It summarizes how the Ethics laws applies to Municipal Employees.
  • The Public Records Law Guide is distributed and referred for online access

Each year, the Town Clerk's office is required to deliver (and obtain a receipt of delivery), the Ethics Summary to every employee, elected official, and member of boards, committees and commissions. In addition, every two years, the Town Clerk's office is required to distribute and collect receipt of completion of the State's on-line Ethics test. Upon successful completion of the test, a personalized certificate is issued which must be filed with the Town Clerk. This requirement became effective in April of 2010 and must be updated every two years. For detailed information regarding the Conflict of Interest Laws, refer to the State Ethics Commission.

The Conflict of Interest Law, Ethics training may be viewed here.