Topsfield is governed by that unique New England institution, the Town Meeting. It is still considered one of the purest examples of democratic government. All voters present at the Annual Town Meeting:
- Act as a legislative body
- Vote on the budget
- Authorize capital expenditures
- Make, amend, or repeal the bylaws
- Approve or reject changes in the administrative structure or procedures
The Town meeting also authorizes the borrowing of money and the issuing of notes or bonds. Topsfield’s Annual Town Meeting is held the first Tuesday in May. Special Town Meetings may be called throughout the year by the Select Board or by petition of 200 or 20 percent of the registered voters, whichever number is less.
The Town Meetings are “open” or “unlimited,” that is the voters are the final authority for town affairs, unlike the voters of larger towns who elect representatives to act as their legislators.