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Under Vermont law, voters of a town may appropriate money for the support of social service programs and agencies that provide services to town residents. 24 V.S.A. § 2691. Such programs include, but are not limited to, transportation, nutrition, childcare, medical care, and other rehabilitative services for persons with low incomes, senior citizens, children, disabled persons, persons with a substance use disorder, and persons requiring employment to eliminate their need for public assistance.

An article regarding an appropriation to a social service agency can be placed on the town meeting warning by vote of the selectboard. Alternatively, a social service agency may submit a petition signed by 5% of the voters to the town clerk by the 47th day before the date of town meeting. 17 V.S.A § 2642(a)(3)(A). These petitioned requests, if valid and timely, must be included in the warning.

Because of the proliferation of social service agency requests, selectboards may find it helpful to adopt a policy like the one linked below to manage these requests. Some selectboards require that all social service agency requests be submitted by petition. Other selectboards allow social service agencies that have had an appropriation approved at the last annual meeting to be included on the warning without a petition as long as the requested appropriation is the same or less than the amount previously approved by the voters. While both methods are appropriate, this model policy adopts the latter of these two arrangements.

This model policy has been developed for illustrative purposes only. VLCT makes no express or implied endorsement or recommendation of any model or any express or implied guarantee of legal enforceability or legal compliance. VLCT also does not represent that any model is appropriate for any particular municipality. Please seek legal counsel to review any proposed model before use.

If you have additional questions about town meeting requirements, please view our Town Meeting homepage or contact the staff at the VLCT Municipal Assistance Center. Members may reach us at or 1-800-649-7915 for assistance.

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, October 20, 2021

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