Town Agent

James "Lexi" Young

Roles and Responsibilities

The town agent plays a limited role in town government. Although statute provides that an agent to prosecute and defend suits shall be elected, no statute provides the agent with any independent authority to act.  In fact, case law makes it clear that the town agent has no authority to originate suits in favor of the town or to settle or compromise suits in which the town has an interest. Instead, the agent’s duty consists merely of assisting when litigation is in progress. Cabot v. Britt, 36 Vt. 349 (1863); Clay v. Wright, 44 Vt. 538 (1872).

The fact that a town agent is elected does not remove the authority of the selectboard to hire an attorney to represent the town, to conduct litigation and to settle suits on behalf of the town. Accordingly, many towns do not have active town agents, and those that do often limit the agent’s activities to picking an attorney for the town or acting as a liaison between the selectboard and the town attorney in particular matters.

• The town agent to prosecute and defend suits is elected each year at annual town meeting.  17 V.S.A. § 2646(11).

• The town agent may become involved with suits in which the town or the town school district is interested.  17 V.S.A. § 2646(11).

Taken from readsborovt.org