The Origin of Municipal Finance Committee
In 1870, a group of Quincy citizens banded together to restore financial order in their municipality, creating the Commonwealth's first finance committee. In 1910 the Massachusetts courts ruled that a municipal finance committee was legal (Sinclair v. Fall River, 198 Mass 248). In that same year the Massachusetts General Court also acknowledged the need for municipal finance committees state-wide, requiring all but the smallest municipalities to establish such committees to assist in dealing with emerging municipal challenges (St 1910, Ch. 130, s 2). Several additional legislative assists (i.e., St 1923, Ch. 388 and St 1929, Ch.270), reinforced the mandated or permitted existence of municipal finance committees. [Association of Town Finance Committees, Finance Committee Handbook]
Duties of the Finance Committee
Town of Adams By-Laws: Chapter 6, Section 4
"The Finance Committee shall consider all municipal questions relating to appropriations and may consider any municipal questions. It shall hear members of town departments and citizens of the town relative to any matter before the committee and shall make such recommendations as the committee deems advisable upon all subjects considered by it. It shall submit its recommendations and report to each town meeting."
Composition & Term of Office
The Finance Committee consists of fifteen members who are residents and registered voters of the town. Of this Committee, no person holding an elective position or any other position in town, other than that of Town Meeting Member is eligible to serve on the Finance Committee. The Town Moderator appoints all members of the Finance Committee. It is recommended that at least two members from each precinct be appointed by the Town Moderator, to insure equitable representation.
The term of office is three years and expires on May 1 unless the annual business meeting of the town is not held and dissolved by May 1, in which case such appointments to the Finance Committee shall not be made until such annual business meeting has been held and dissolved. In the event of a vacancy on the Finance Committee, the Town Moderator shall make an appointment to fill the vacancy for the unexpired term.
Upon reaching age seventy, Finance Committee members who have served for not less than three consecutive terms may be retired by the Town Moderator and listed as honorary members of the Committee. A member so retired shall attend Finance Committee meetings only when so requested by its chairman, to give his advice or suggestions, but not to vote, on matters pending before the Committee. Such "honorary members" are exclusive of the fifteen members permitted by law.