Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Board of Selectmen
A Board of Selectmen is a common executive arm of a town's government in New England. The board may consist of three or five members with staggered terms.
Boards of Selectmen were the child of necessity. When small towns grew too large for their people to run them efficiently, they would elect this executive board of, literally, select(ed) men to run the town for them. These men were in charge of the day-to-day operations of the town, and served as everything from CEO to policeman to poundkeeper.
The larger towns grew, the more distributed power would become among other elected boards. In many towns today, the part-time Board of Selectmen is largely ceremonial, with most of its powers entrusted to a full-time town administrator or town manager. In some towns, the Board of Selectmen acts more like a town or city council, but retains the historic name of Board of Selectmen.
Traditionally, the head of the Board of Selectmen is the First Selectman. Historically, the First Selectman has served as the chief administrative officer of the town. Sometimes this is a part-time position, with larger towns hiring a Town Manager, and sometimes the First Selectman exercises the powers typically associated with mayors.
See also: Town meeting
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