- provide general policy direction
- issue administrative orders
- appoint and serve as hiring authority for approximately 75 Town boards, committees, and officials who administer Town government
- issue Annual and Special Town Meeting Warrants
- engage and supervise Town Legal Counsel and approve actions in litigation
- authorize all borrowing and all expenditures, including payroll
- act as the Town licensing board, issuing alcohol, livery, auctioneer, and new and used car sales licenses, and common victuallers, underground storage, and earth removal permits
- adjudicate dog complaints not resolved by the Dog Officer
- publish the Annual Town Report
- oversee municipal property and risk management for the Town
The term Selectmen probably derives from the traditional Select Vestrymen of English towns. After the Town Clerks, Selectmen were the first officials to serve colonial towns. At first, like the Moderator, they were selected at Town Meeting by fellow townsmen from among leading citizens. Afterwards they took their place among the other annually elected boards and officials.
The Selectmen are served by a salaried Town Manager and executive assistant.
One member is annually designated as Clerk of the Board and signs certain official documents, such as the Board Minutes. There is a rotating Chairmanship; the five members of the Board of Selectmen are co-equal.