This is a shoutout to finance committees everywhere.

And planning boards. And zoning boards, conservation commissions, boards of selectmen, boards of health, school committees, shellfish committees, personnel committees and all the other many committees, advisory and otherwise, that are the grist of small-town government.

In the off-season months when the bitter winds blow hard off the cold ocean water, shuttering ferries and downing trees and driving all but the hardiest of Islanders indoors with their wood stoves and fireplaces — the good people who volunteer their time to serve on these committees can be found holed up in fluorescent-lit meeting rooms in town halls, libraries and other meeting places, fortified by lukewarm coffee and bottled water as they do their jobs.

And when the days begin to lengthen and there is birdsong outdoors and shellfishermen on the ponds again, they are still at it, holding hearings, signing off on decisions, making judgment calls on a variety of matters large and small. The work of these committees is nearly universally unsung and, not infrequently, second-guessed. And it’s a good bet that few people ever stop to think what exactly it is that they do.

Finance committees, while advisory, are the umpires of town budgets. Every year starting in January they meet with department heads, department by department, and review spending requests, line by line, later voting their recommendations. By the time April rolls around, the budgets are ready for their curtain calls with voters at annual town meetings.

Planning boards administer state subdivision laws, deal with all manner of developments and developers, and write master plans and bylaws pertaining to land use.

Zoning boards are quasi-judicial and can hear appeals, grant variances and issue special permits. They also enforce town zoning rules.

Conservation commissions are unique to Massachusetts, where the municipal conservation commission was invented in the 1950s out of concern for the protection of natural resources at the government level. Today conservation commissions administer the state Wetlands Protection Act, and are also empowered to write their own wetlands protection rules tailored to the needs of their respective towns.

Boards of selectmen are the towns’ executive branch, charged with oversight of various town functions. They make appointments, prepare the town warrant and hire town employees.

Boards of health are charged with the protection of public health and have unique powers, including the power to enact regulations in the name of protecting clean drinking water supplies.

Each of these roles — providing little or no compensation — demand a great deal of time, careful weighing of facts and opinions and the willingness to take tough positions in putting the common good ahead of the interests of individuals. It’s a wonder that anyone wants the aggravation, and a blessing that, year after year, enough civic-minded individuals come forward to do their part.

Town meeting season ended this week when Aquinnah became the sixth Island town to conclude its annual business. The season was marked by the retirement of two longtime public servants, Tristan Israel, who served as a Tisbury selectman for 25 years, and Peter Temple, who served on the Aquinnah planning board for 23 years.

Both received standing ovations, little enough thanks for the enormous service they have given to their towns. May each town be lucky enough to find other smart, energetic and thoughtful volunteers willing and able to fill their shoes.