BoS discretionary funds violates TM control

Town Accountant Joy Ricciuto today queried the DOR legal department about the Warrant Committee’s suggestion that the selectmen have discretionary authority over $25,000 to $50,000 of spending a year, and learned that it is an impermissible delegation of the  authority vested with the town meeting.  Below is Joy’s email and the DOR response.

I sent an email to the Mass DOR Legal Department and received a telephone response.
Don Gorton is the lawyer who responded, and below is a summary of his answer,
The creation of a Discretionary Spending Fund looks problematic, the appropriation has to have parameters, or is an improper appropriation.  This is too broad, and rules against abdicating the role of town meeting.  Appropriating is the role of town meeting, cannot circumscribe the authority of town meeting to appropriate.  This exceeds the bounds of permissible delegation.
Don Gorton said he was happy to talk to anyone if they have further questions.  He can be reached at 617-626-2400, the Bureau of Municipal Finance Law.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Joy Ricciuto
Date: Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 1:24 PM
Subject: Discretionary fund for Selectmen-please advise

The Town of Medfield Warrant Committee (Finance Committee) and the Board of Selectmen are discussing the creation of a ‘Discretionary Spending Fund’ set up for the Selectmen in the range of $25,000 to $50,000 appropriated for the Selectmen to decide how it would be spent. The intent is to place such value judgments within the purview of an elected body
Please advise as to the permissibility and  legal appropriateness of establishing this type of fund.
Respectfully yours,.
Joy A. Ricciuto, CGA
Town Accountant

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