The ABCs Of The RTM

Thinking of running for the RTM? Petitions are due September 14.

Have no clue what the RTM is? Read on!

Peter Gold explains it all. An RTM — that is, Representative Town Meeting — member, he is writing for himself, not in an official capacity. 

The RTM is Westport’s legislative body — sort of like a town council. Every 2 years, each of the 9 districts in town elects 4 representatives.

The RTM is non-partisan. Candidates are not nominated or endorsed by a political party.

The RTM has the final say on 2 budgets: the town, and the Board of Education.  It can approve the budgets submitted by the 1st Selectman and Board of Ed.; it can restore cuts to those budgets made by the Board of Finance, or it can cut those budgets.

Note: While the RTM can cut specific line items on the town side of the budget (for example, road paving, paper clips or secretarial services), it can only cut the total amount of the Board of Education budget. It is then up to the Board of Education to decide exactly how to allocate the reduction among the specific line items in its budget.

The RTM also approves all town expenditures of $20,000 or more. This fiscal oversight is perhaps the most important function of the RTM.

The RTM oversees all town budgets. They approve new plows, and requests for sand.

The RTM also adopts or rejects proposed town ordinances; revieww certain decisions of the Planning and Zoning Commission; reviews certain fees charged by town departments for various services; appoints some members of town institutions (such as the Library and Westport Transit District), and approves or rejects collective bargaining agreements with unions representing town employees.

In addition to these formal responsibilities, the RTM provides oversight of the operations of town government; represents the interests of residents, and makes sure their concerns are brought to the attention of the appropriate town bodies.

Members serve on subcommittees, such as Education, Employee Compensation and Information Technology.

When residents have an issue with something in town, their RTM representatives are among the first people they go to for help.

All of these functions contribute in important ways to keeping the town’s taxes low, improving services, keeping the quality of life in Westport high, and making Westport the place we want to live.

The full RTM meets monthly, usually on the first Tuesday of each month. During COVID, the meetings are via Zoom.

Members of the public are welcome to attend, and speak on any topic on the RTM’s agenda.  Meetings can also be viewed live on the town website, and on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 99.

RTM meeting agendas are posted on the town website in advance of each meeting; minutes can be found there too.

(Click here for a petition. Click here for a map of all 9 districts. Click here for a list of all members.)

2 responses to “The ABCs Of The RTM

  1. Fascinating look inside Westport through the RTM.

  2. Donald Bergmann

    Once again Peter Gold, RTM Member, contributes to understanding and hence, hopefully, better government. For a while, RTM Member Christine Meiers Schatz was issuing a report on RTM Meetings and actions. I found that too to be beneficial but I think the demands on her time caused her to be unable to continue that effort. It is important that we know what the RTM does, and make our voices heard. Learning about issues early in the process is the best way to impact upon outcomes.

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