Local government in New Hampshire

Local government in New Hampshire consists of county, school district, and municipal governments.


There are 10 counties in the state of New Hampshire responsible for local sheriff services, nursing homes, and prisons. A county is governed by a board of county commissioners. Similar to the rest of New England, county government in New Hampshire is very weak and have relatively few responsibilities compared to states in other regions. Most local government functions are performed at the town and city level.


New Hampshire contains 234 incorporated towns and cities. Thirteen are cities and 221 are towns. Towns and cities are treated identically under state law. The primary difference is that cities are former towns who dropped the town meeting form of government in favor of a city form through special act of the New Hampshire General Court. Since 1979, however, any town or city can change its form of government by creation of a new charter and voter approval of the new municipal charter. Cities and towns are nominally divisions of the state. However, as in the rest of New England, the laws governing their authority are very broadly construed.

Collectively, these 234 municipalities cover the vast majority of, but not all of, the state's territory. There are some unincorporated areas in the sparsely populated northern region of the state. Most of the unincorporated areas are in Coos County, the state's northernmost county. Carroll and Grafton counties also contain small amounts of unincorporated territory. This territory includes seven unincorporated townships and an assortment of gores, grants, purchases and locations. The remaining seven counties in the state are entirely incorporated (Grafton County was also fully incorporated at one time, but lost that status when one of its towns disincorporated). Fewer than 250 of the state's residents live in unincorporated areas.

  • The largest municipality in New Hampshire, by population (as of the 2010 census), is the city of Manchester (pop. 109,565).
  • The largest which is a town and not a city is Derry (pop. 33,109).
  • The smallest which is a city and not a town is Franklin (pop. 8,477).
  • The smallest incorporated municipality overall is the town of Hart's Location (pop. 41).
  • The largest municipality by land area is the town of Pittsburg (282 square miles (730 km2)).
  • The smallest is the town of New Castle (0.83 square miles (2.1 km2)).

See also

2009 Manchester, New Hampshire municipal election

The Manchester mayoral election of 2009 preliminary municipal election occurred on September 15, 2009, and the municipal election occurred on Tuesday, November 3, 2009. Alderman and State Senator Ted Gatsas defeated Alderman Mark Roy by a margin of 56% to 43% in the November 3rd general election. Manchester's mayoral race is non-partisan, occurs every two years, and there are no term limits. The current mayor, Frank Guinta, has served since 2006. Incumbent Mayor Guinta stated in the spring that he would not run for reelection and subsequently announced that he will run to represent New Hampshire's 1st congressional district in the United States House of Representatives in 2010 challenging incumbent Carol Shea-Porter.

Board of selectmen

The board of selectmen or select board is commonly the executive arm of the government of New England towns in the United States. The board typically consists of three or five members, with or without staggered terms. Three is the most common number, historically. In some places, a first selectman is appointed to head the board, often by election.

Fence Viewer

A Fence Viewer is a town or city official who administers fence laws by inspecting new fences and settles disputes arising from trespass by livestock that have escaped enclosure.The office of Fence Viewer is one of the oldest appointments in New England. The office emigrated along with New England pioneers to the Midwest as well, where the office still exists.

Local government in the United States

Local government in the United States refers to governmental jurisdictions below the level of the state. Most states and territories have at least two tiers of local government: counties and municipalities. In some states, counties are divided into townships. There are several different types of jurisdictions at the municipal level, including the city, town, borough, and village. The types and nature of these municipal entities vary from state to state.

Many rural areas and even some suburban areas of many states have no municipal government below the county level. In other places consolidated city-county jurisdictions exist, in which city and county functions are managed by a single municipal government. In places like New England, towns are the primary unit of local government and counties have no governmental function but exist in a purely perfunctory capacity (e.g. for census data).

In addition to general-purpose local governments, there may be local or regional special-purpose local governments, such as school districts and districts for fire protection, sanitary sewer service, public transportation, public libraries, public parks or forests, or water resource management. Such special purpose districts often encompass areas in multiple municipalities. According to the US Census Bureau's data collected in 2012, there were 89,004 local government units in the United States. This data shows a decline from 89,476 units since the last census of local governments performed in 2007.

Moderator (town official)

A moderator is an official of an incorporated town who presides over the town meeting, and in some cases, other municipal meetings. In the United States, the area of the country best known for the town meeting form of government is New England. The office of moderator exists in at least Connecticut (Mandell c. 2007), Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island (Advisory Opinion No. 2009-5 2009) and Vermont.

New England town

The New England town, generally referred to simply as a town in New England, is the basic unit of local government and local division of state authority in each of the six New England states and without a direct counterpart in most other U.S. states. New England towns overlay the entire area of a state, similar to civil townships in other states where they exist, but they are fully functioning municipal corporations, possessing powers similar to cities in other states. New Jersey's system of equally powerful townships, boroughs, towns, and cities is the system which is most similar to that of New England. New England towns are often governed by a town meeting legislative body. The great majority of municipal corporations in New England are based on the town model; statutory forms based on the concept of a compact populated place are uncommon, though they are prevalent elsewhere in the U.S. County government in New England states is typically weak at best, and in some states nonexistent. Connecticut, for example, has no county governments,

nor does Rhode Island. Both of those states retain counties only as geographic subdivisions with no governmental authority, while Massachusetts has abolished eight of fourteen county governments so far. With few exceptions, counties serve mostly as dividing lines for the states' judicial systems.

Outline of New Hampshire

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the U.S. state of New Hampshire:

New Hampshire – U.S. state in the New England region of the United States of America, named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It was one of the original thirteen states that founded the U.S.

Representative town meeting

A representative town meeting, also called "limited town meeting", is a form of municipal legislature particularly common in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and permitted in Maine and New Hampshire.

Representative town meetings function largely the same as open town meetings, except that not all registered voters can participate or vote. The townspeople instead elect town meeting members by precinct to represent them and to vote on the issues for them, much like a U.S. Representative votes on behalf of their constituents in Congress.

Ted Gatsas

Theodore "Ted" Gatsas (born May 22, 1950) is an American politician and member of the Republican party who had served as Mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire from 2010 to 2018. He was a member of the New Hampshire Senate, representing the 16th District from 2000 until he resigned in 2009 after being elected mayor.Gatsas was educated at Manchester Central High School. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire at Manchester with a Bachelor of Science degree. He then started Staffing Network, a PEO, with his brother Michael. Gatsas was elected alderman in the Manchester city council in 1999, and later elected to the New Hampshire Senate in 2000. He became President of the Senate in 2005 by cutting a deal mid-term with the minority Democrats to remove two-term Republican Senate President Tom Eaton. He was elected Senate Minority Leader after the Democrats took control of the State Senate in 2006.

Gatsas is Greek American. The Greek Orthodox Church Metropolitan of Boston, Metropolitan Methodios, gave the invocation at his 2015 inauguration.

Town council

A town council, village council or rural council is a form of local government for small municipalities.

Usage of the term varies under different jurisdictions.

Town meeting

A town meeting is a form of direct democratic rule, used primarily in portions of the United States – principally in New England – since the 17th century, in which most or all the members of a community come together to legislate policy and budgets for local government. This is a town- or city-level meeting where decisions are made, in contrast with town hall meetings held by state and national politicians to answer questions from their constituents, which have no decision-making power.

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