The 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts are governed by state law, town charter, and general by-laws. Needham has a Representative Town Meeting with the Select Board and Town Manager serving as the overseeing entities. For other types of municipal government in Massachusetts, see this summary from the Mass Municipal Association.
The Legislative body of Needham’s Town government is Representative Town Meeting. There are a total of 240 elected Town Meeting Members (24 from each of 10 precincts). In addition there are 14 Town Meeting members at large, each of whom shall have the right to vote: (a) any resident member of the General Court from the Town, whose state legislative district is wholly within the town; (b) the moderator; (c) the town clerk; (d) the members of the board of selectmen; (e) the chairmen of each other elected board of the Town, except the Housing Authority and the Commissioners of Trust Funds.
The Annual Town Meeting begins on the first Monday in May of each year. If the business is not completed that day, an adjournment shall be taken to the next following Wednesday. If any business shall then remain unfinished, adjournment shall be taken to the next following Monday, with successive adjournments to the next following Wednesdays and Mondays until all business is completed, unless otherwise voted at one of the scheduled meetings.
Special Town Meetings may be called by the Select Board as needed – this often occurs in the fall.
Town Meeting is conducted at Town Hall with the Town Moderator presiding. The public is invited to attend, and may speak on issues being considered upon recognition by the Moderator. The Needham Cable Channel broadcasts Town Meeting live on the local government channel.
The Executive body of Needham’s Town government is the Select Board. This board consists of five members elected for three years, with overlapping terms. Meetings are held twice per month in the Select Board’s Chambers at Town Hall, unless otherwise announced. The Select Board, as the chief elected officials, have general supervision over all matters that are not specifically delegated by law or vote to some other officer or board.
The Town Manager is appointed by the Select Board and serves as the chief executive officer of the Town. The Town Manager is responsible for day-to-day administration, appointing and supervising most Town employees, and implementing policies set by the Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting. The primary duties and responsibilities of the Town Manager are spelled out in the Town Charter Part 3, Section 20.