The Representative Town Meeting (RTM) is the legislative body of the Town. It consists of 36 elected members: 4 members from each of Westport's 9 RTM districts.
The powers and responsibilities of the RTM are provided in the Town Charter and Connecticut General Statutes. Among these are:
- Adopting the annual Town and Education budgets.
- Approving Town Appropriations over $20,000.
- Enacting ordinances of the Town.
- Reviewing certain appropriations, bonds, leases, sales and purchases of Town property.
- Reviewing certain changes to zoning regulations (text amendments), changes to zoning boundaries, and negative 8-24 reports (regarding certain purchases, sales, leases and uses of Town property).
- Reviewing certain changes to regulations concerning the use of Town recreation and other public facilities.
- Reviewing negotiated and arbitrated labor agreements with Town and Board of Education employees.
Meetings, Agendas and Committees:
The RTM generally meets once per month, usually the first Tuesday of the month. Meetings are noticed at least 5 days before the meetings and are open to the public. Dates of meetings can be found on the RTM calendar page of the website.
Items can be placed on the RTM agenda by the RTM Moderator or the First Selectman, 2 RTM Members, or 20 electors (by petition). Petition information is available in the Town Clerk's Office. Much of the RTM's work is done in RTM Committee meetings, which are publicly noticed and are open to the public. The 14 regular RTM Committees are responsible for studying and staying fully informed about Town affairs within each Committee's scope of business, and reporting on their findings to the full RTM. The appropriate Committees meet before RTM meetings as needed to review agenda items and make recommendations to the full RTM.
From 1835 to 1949 Westport was governed in the traditional New England town meeting method. On February 26, 1949, in order to form a more representative government for our growing town, Westport electors voted to change to a Representative Town Meeting. 124 Westporters ran for the 26 seats on the first RTM, which held its first meeting on November 21 of that year. There are 6 other towns in Connecticut that use the RTM form of Government.
Membership on the RTM
The RTM is made up of 36 Representatives elected for 2-year terms. The Town is divided into 9 RTM districts, and there are 4 Representatives from each district. A map of the districts is available here.
Unlike many other legislative bodies, Westport's RTM is nonpartisan, although members may belong to a political party.
Running for the RTM
Any voter in the Town of Westport can run for the office of RTM in his/her district. Nomination for a new candidate requires a petition to be filed with the Town Clerk's Office every odd-numbered year between late July and early September and requires the signatures of 25 registered voters in the candidate's RTM district. Petitions and deadlines can be obtained from the Town Clerk's Office.