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Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers are the heart and soul of this community. Without volunteers who are willing to serve as elected and appointed officials in Hancock, municipal operations would be severely hampered, and many important governmental functions would cease to exist. Luckily, we are blessed with many residents who are willing to stand up and contribute to the betterment of this town.

There are a number of elected and appointed positions within town that you may wish to volunteer for; here is a list of some of these positions:  

Appointed Ballot Clerks RSA chapter 658 or 659
Appointed Budget Advisory Committee RSA 32:15, RSA 32:16 and 32:18
Appointed Capital Improvement Plan Committee RSA 674:5
Elected Cemetery Trustee RSA 289:7
Elected Common Commision  
Appointed Conservation Commission RSA 36-A:4
Appointed Historic District Commission RSA 674:46-a
Elected Library Trustee RSA 202-A:11
Elected Moderator RSA 40:1 - RSA 40:4
Appointed Planning Board RSA 674:1
Elected Selectboard RSA 41:8
Elected Supervisors of the Checklist RSA 41:46-a
Elected Town Clerk RSA 41:45-a
Elected Town Treasurer RSA 41:29
Elected Trustees of Trust Funds RSA 31:22
Elected Water Commission RSA 38:18; RSA 149-I:19
Appointed Zoning Board of Adjustment RSA 674:33

In addition to these positions, there are a number of other commissions and committees to consider volunteering for.  To see a list of current vacancies and application process, click Volunteer Opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions for Volunteers

Individuals who volunteer or donate their services to a municipality may receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses such as for the cost of attending trainings and workshops and for mileage. Under federal law a volunteer cannot receive more than nominal compensation and reimbursement for expenses. Under state law a volunteer must be a person who serves without the expectation of 
compensation, although reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses is permitted.

To avoid establishing an employee-employer relationship with a volunteer, the municipality should avoid compensation that is tied to productivity or the number of hours of service provided to the municipality.

Employees of the municipality may not volunteer to do the same type of work they do as a paid employee for the same employer. Given the overtime pay requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employee might ask if he or she may volunteer a portion of his or her time for services without pay. The FLSA, however, prohibits an individual from being both a paid employee and an 
unpaid volunteer while performing the same or similar services for which he or she is employed. An employee could volunteer to perform other services that were not the “same or similar” to his or her paid position, but the two positions must be different to pass the test. For example, a firefighter might volunteer as a part-time referee in a town-sponsored basketball league but could not volunteer for any services involving fighting fires, inspecting buildings or any of the other services that are a part of the firefighting job.
In most instances the appointing authority for municipal offices and volunteer positions is the governing body (select board, town council, city council). Sometimes, the appointment is by the board or commission the person is volunteering for, such as an elected planning board or zoning board of adjustment.
In towns that have adopted the nonpartisan ballot system, all candidates must file a declaration of candidacy with the town clerk during the filing period for town candidates. The filing period beings on the seventh Wednesday and ends on the Friday of the following week before the town election. The declaration of candidacy in towns is prepared by the town clerk in substantially the following form

I,            , declare that I am domiciled in the town of           , and that I am a registered voter therein; that I am a candidate for the office of           and hereby request that my name be printed on the official nonpartisan ballot of the town of       .
In cities, the city charter would specify a filing period, the filing fee to be paid for each office, and, may also provide an alternative method of becoming a candidate on the ballot, such as the number of qualified voters which may be subscribed to a nominating petition in such form as the charter may require.
There are a number of ways that volunteers and town officials are afforded liability protection.

First, under RSA 508:17, a person who volunteers for a local government position is immune from civil liability in any action brought on the basis of any act or omission resulting in damage or injury to any person if: (a) The government entity has a record indicating that the person is a volunteer; and (b) The volunteer was acting in good faith and within the scope of his official functions and duties; and (c) The damage or injury was not caused by willful, wanton, or grossly negligent misconduct by the volunteer.

Second, persons who volunteer to serve on a municipal board or commission created by statute or charter, including but not limited to select board members, ZBA members and planning board members, shall not be held liable for civil damages for any vote or decision made their official capacity in good faith and within the scope of their authority. RSA 31:104.

Third, cities, towns, and village districts are required to indemnify and hold harmless volunteers who serve as elected or appointed officials for claims made under federal civil rights statutes. RSA 31:106.
In most instances, persons who are appointed or elected serve three-years terms. Occasionally the term of office can be 2 years or 1 year.
To serve as an elected or appointed official you must reside in the town or city. If you permanently move out of the municipality (as opposed to a temporary absence) you will be deemed to have resigned your position, and another person would be appointed to fill the vacancy.
Once you are appointed you will be required to take an oath of office that is prescribed by the NH Constitution. That oath will require you to obey and abide by the laws and Constitution of the New Hampshire and United States and require you to not to divulge any confidential information you receive in the performance of your official duties.  Your municipality may also have a Conflict of Interest
Ordinance that may require you to disclose any potentially conflicting financial interests you may have.
To officially take your position, you must take an oath of office. RSA 42:1 states that every town officer shall make and subscribe to the oath or declaration as prescribed by part II, article 84 of the Constitution of New Hampshire. The moderator, town clerk, one of the selectmen or a justice of the peace are authorized to administer the oath.
Yes, you may continue to use social media. However, the better question is, should you? Social media can be a good tool for providing fast and efficient information to the public, however it can also be a easy way to get yourself into a compromising situation. As a local official, you must answer to the town and the voters for your actions both in your official capacity as a local official and as an everyday citizen. Expressing opinions on your social media or engaging in contentious online discussions can lead to perceived or actual conflicts of interest. Posts on various social media sites have been the focus of court cases here in New Hampshire where conflicts arose and decisions were overturned because someone posted something on a social media platform. Therefore, the best advice is to avoid excessive social media use, and if you choose to continue using social media, do so with caution.
Yes, there are many positions that can be held by the same person. Some boards and bodies even have a requirement that a member of a different public body also serve on that board such as the ex-officio member of the select board who serves on the planning board. However, there are other positions that are expressly prohibited from being held by the same person. This is called incompatibility of office. RSA 669:7 and :8 list various positions which are incompatible with each other. For example, no person shall at the same time hold the office of both selectman and treasurer, or trustee of trust funds and collector of taxes. If two positions are incompatible with each other, you cannot run for both positions at the same time even if you only intend to accept one of the positions. Filing a declaration of candidacy for two positions that are incompatible with each other could result in your candidacy being disqualified for both.

Sometimes there are two positions that are not prohibited from being held by the same person via statute, however it would nonetheless be a bad idea for one person to serve in both roles. This scenario generally occurs when there is a high likelihood that conflicts of interest will arise for that person. An example of this would be having a member of the select board serve on the ZBA. 
While the statutes don’t expressly deny a member of the select board from serving on the ZBA, given the relationship between the two bodies, it is very likely that this person would find themselves conflicted out of several ZBA decisions due to their role on the selectboard.
As a local official, you could be provided with information that is confidential, or not intended to be released to the public at the current time. Generally this occurs when reviewing a document that contains someone else’s private personal information or from being a part of a non-public session. It is very important to keep this information confidential and not abuse your position of power within the town to disclose of private information you may have learned. Disclosure of confidential information by a local official could be seen as a violation of your oath of office and could even result in your removal from office or charges filed against you.
Yes, RSA 91-A, commonly referred to as the Right-to-Know Law is one of the most important laws to be aware of. If you are an elected or appointed official, a member of a public body, or even an administrative official or employee of a town, the Right-to-Know Law will affect your position to some extent. You need to be sure that you are complying with the requirements of RSA 91-A every time you are holding a public meeting, handling governmental records, or communicating with other members of a public body. 
Email can be a useful tool to communicate with other members of a board or body and to exchange relevant information among local officials in town. There are two important things to remember when using email communication, 1) you should always use a dedicated email address for official business and avoid mingling professional emails with your personal email, and 2) you should make sure that 
you are not unintentionally violating the Right-to-Know law with your electronic communications.

Email communications sent by local officials could contain information relevant to a public records request, and emails are governmental records that may be required to be retained for a certain period of time depending on the content of the communication. That is why you do not want to be combining your personal emails with official town emails. Ideally, the town should be providing you 
with a dedicated town email address, however if that is not the case, you can create your own email address that you use only for town business.

Any time you are sending an email to members of a public body, you want to make sure that you are not engaging in a contemporaneous discussion of official business outside of a properly noticed public meeting. The best way to avoid this is to simply use the BCC function when sending out emails to multiple people and to limit substantive back and forth discussions to public meetings if you are a member of a board or body.