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Elective Courses

Beyond the Beltway: Influencing Federal Policy through Grassroots Engagement (3 hour class)
This class provides information about Congress, federal agencies and how municipal officials can engage most effectively with leaders at the federal level to advocate for municipal priorities. Participants obtain tips for communicating with members of Congress and engage in role playing exercises to hone their negotiating skills. Participants also hear firsthand from members of Georgia’s Congressional delegation and/or key Congressional legislative staff about why it’s so important for city officials to stay in touch with federal leaders.
Building a Hometown Connection: GMA Lobbying 101 (6 hour class)
This class provides an overview of the state legislative process and helps city officials understand how they can be effective advocates of issues important to their community and cities throughout the state. Participants receive ideas for establishing productive year-round relationships with members of the General Assembly as well as practical lobbying tips they can use during the legislative session. The class also includes a hands-on exercise using real-life legislative scenarios.
Civics for Local Government (3 hour class)
This class provides important information on the proper protocol in the display of the American flag and other flags in government buildings; appropriate recognition of the American flag when entering a room; and the proper programming of the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem into city-sponsored events and other civic programs. The class also discusses the basic protocol for welcoming foreign visitors and other dignitaries. The class includes activities to make the learning meaningful for participants. Knowing what to do, why and First Amendment implications is important to our cities and our citizens.
Creating a Downtown Renaissance: Advanced DDA Training (6 hour class)
This class builds on the Basic Downtown Development Authority training class with an emphasis on applying downtown development tools. The importance of developing a downtown vision and a plan are discussed. Attendees also hear the basics of navigating Business Improvement Districts, Community Improvement Districts, Tax Allocation Districts, Historic Preservation Tax Credits, the Redevelopment Powers Act and Urban Redevelopment Law. Best practice examples of utilizing federal, state and local partnerships, programs and incentives are shared. Class participants are given an opportunity to immediately apply the tools and programs highlighted in the classes through a case study exercise. Basic Downtown Development Authority training is a pre-requisite.
Changing Demographics and Best Practices (3 hour class)
Georgia’s demographics are constantly shifting, impacting cities. Georgia’s population is getting older and increasingly representing the cultures of many nationalities and many interests. This class examines the cultural and aging trends in Georgia and explores the implications of these changing demographics for cities, both in terms of challenges and opportunities. Time is allocated for representatives from communities that have been significantly impacted by these trends to share their insights and suggestions.
Critical Issues Classes (3 and 6 hour classes) On occasion, special training classes are offered that address an important municipal issue or concern. These classes may be offered more than once.
Downtown Development Authority Basic Training (8 hour class – 6 hour credit)
This class is primarily directed at those who serve on Downtown Development Authorities, but is open to all city officials. Topics include: management of downtown as a valuable resource; the role of the authority, board members and staff; DDA laws; and the day-to-day operations of a Downtown Development Authority. 
Economics of Education (3 hour class)
This class provides specific and tangible evidence that education is vitally important to a community’s prosperity. The class reinforces the critical role of businesses and the entire community in building a strong workforce and positive economic climate through improved education. Data will be presented indicating where Georgia stands in its ability to raise the bar on student achievement. Additionally, the class will present the correlation between a quality education and a community’s ability to attract good-paying jobs and enhance its quality of life. Participants also learn where to find school performance indicators for their community.
Effective Practices for Municipal Operations 101 (3 hour class)
This class targets municipal elected officials from small communities and newly elected officials and exposes them to various fundamental principles for having a professionally managed city. The class examines basic management strategies and analyzes tools and processes needed to create an organizational climate of excellence for the effective delivery of municipal services. In addition, the class identifies emerging issues and other challenges that can impede effective municipal operations.
Employee Benefits 101 (Retirement) (3 hour class)
This class targets municipal elected officials and staff. It provides a general overview of retirement plans that cities can offer to employees and explains the differences between various plan types, such as defined benefit, defined contribution and deferred compensation plans and how these plans function and are administered.
Excellence in Customer Service (3 hour class)
This class provides important information for elected officials and staff relating to the proper role that customer service plays in local government. Participants will explore ways to move from average customer service to excellent customer service. Participants examine internal policies and procedures that hamper and support customer service at its best. The class instructor guides officials in defining and communicating the customer service organizational culture of their respective cities.
Fire and Emergency Medical Services (6 hour class) This class exposes city officials to some of the basic concepts involved in providing municipal fire suppression, fire prevention and emergency medical services. In addition to reviewing applicable laws and codes, the class covers emerging issues and new technologies.
Housing Solutions for Cities — Mobile Workshop (6 hour class) This class provides officials with information about housing needs and issues, as well as programs and resources available to assist communities in the area of housing. The class format is a combination of classroom and mobile workshop. The mobile workshop highlights one or more successful local housing development(s) and provides participants the opportunity to see first-hand how some of the resources and programs described during the classroom session have been utilized.
Human Resources II (6 hour class) This class focuses on areas of human resource management such as performance appraisal systems; recruiting, interviewing, hiring and retaining staff; employee benefits; and employee training. The class builds on information provided in Human Resources I, but it is not a prerequisite for Human Resources II.
Let’s Get Social (3 hour class)
Technology impacts personal lives, work and local government. This class examines and defines what social media means, how social media can be used by local government, including the risks and benefits of such usage. The legal basis for governmental use of social media is reviewed. Demonstrations on making social media user friendly for both large and small governments are provided. Finally, the class helps participants determine the social media applications that matter most to their organization, navigate the set-up process for key applications, create meaningful content and engage their audience across different sites.
Law Enforcement Services: Trends and Best Practices (6 hour class)
This class familiarizes municipal officials with the basic concepts of law enforcement.  In addition to reviewing applicable laws, funding mechanisms and staffing models, the class addresses emerging public safety issues, trends and innovations.

Local Government Debt Methods 101 (3 hour class)
This class targets municipal elected officials and staff and exposes them to various fundamental methods of issuing debt in Georgia. The class examines the history of public debt in Georgia, basic public finance principles, legal requirements and prohibitions, and various financing methods needed to effectively budget for capital improvement projects.
Managing Growth: Economic and Natural Resource Issues (6 hour class)
This class shows city leaders how they can exert meaningful control over how their community grows. Topics include economic and ecological considerations, protecting water quality, regulatory initiatives and regionalization. Promoting infill development and redevelopment, preserving land and capturing private investment are also covered.
Mobile Workshops (3 hour and 6 hour classes) Mobile workshops give participants an opportunity to see first-hand how a community has addressed an issue, concern or opportunity.
Money, Money, Money … Money!: Funding City Projects and Programs Through Grants and Loans (6 hour class)
With limited ability to generate increased revenues from taxes and user fees, city officials often seek grant and low-interest loan opportunities to help address a range of capital improvement and operational needs. This class details some of the state, federal and foundation funding sources available to municipalities in Georgia and offers advice on how to write strong grant applications. Additionally, the class provides an introduction to some reporting and administrative responsibilities the city may have once funding has been awarded.
Multi-day Economic Development Class (multi-day class – 12 hour credit)
This class is conducted by the Georgia Academy for Economic Development. Participants must be nominated and attend four days of training over a four-month period. Team projects are required. For information on this class, please contact the Department of Community Affairs. Participants receive 12 hours of credit through the Municipal Training Institute for successfully completing this class.
Municipal Electric Systems 101 (3 hour class)
This class is open only to officials from the 52 Georgia cities that own and operate public power systems. Electric utilities are multi-million dollar enterprises and it is essential that policymakers and key staff have a strong understanding of all aspects of the service—including generation, transmission and distribution—as well as sound financial and management practices. In addition to providing a basic overview of municipal electric system operations, the class is designed to help attendees understand the role of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Electric Cities of Georgia and the services and resources each organization provides to participating systems.
Municipal Gas Systems 101 (3 hour class)
This class is open only to officials from the 84 Georgia cities that own and operate a municipal gas system. In addition to providing a basic overview of municipal gas system operations, the class is designed to help attendees understand the role of the GMA Gas Section and Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia and the services and resources provided to participating systems. The class also informs and educates municipal officials on the continued safe and efficient operation of the natural gas system. It is important that key officials become aware of state and federal regulations and the issues of an aging infrastructure.
Municipal Taxation 102 – The Basics Continued (3 hour class) (New)The class gives municipal officials a broad understanding of local government taxation with an in-depth look at excise taxes related to alcohol, lodging, rental vehicles and energy used in manufacturing, as well as business occupation tax (formerly known as business licenses). Participants will gain an understanding of tax language and appropriate use of revenues, preparing them to communicate tax issues to constituents and make prudent decisions related to expenditures.  This class includes information from the old 6 hour Taxation 101-The Basics class.

Public Presentations and Meet the Media (6 hour class)
This class teaches municipal officials how to be more effective when speaking to groups or addressing the media. Techniques for developing presentation content and delivery, as well as tips for more effectively dealing with the media, are shared. As part of the class, participants make a brief presentation to their fellow classmates.
Recreation and Parks – Building Communities (3 hour class)
Recreation and park programs and facilities play an important role in creating a high quality of life for communities. They create public value by offering recreational activities, green-space for relaxation and opportunities for improving the health of residents. However, recreation and park programs are sometimes seen as amenities that cities cannot afford. This session explores the role of recreation and parks in building community and economic development, and options for funding.
Regional Approaches to Cooperation (6 hour class)
Municipal governments face many challenges today in delivering services to their citizens with resources that continue to diminish. These challenges have provided new opportunities for cities to work across jurisdictional boundaries to effectively support community and economic development efforts, as well as many other local projects and programs. This cooperation can be accomplished through informal and formal agreements, and partnerships may extend to public, non-profit and private sector entities. This class examines the concept of regional cooperation, tools for implementation, opportunities to explore best practices around the state and strategies for establishing successful regional partnerships.
Retreats provide an opportunity for city councils to come together, apart from the regular meetings, to prepare for the future. The focus may be on teamwork, goal setting, or other city concerns. Each retreat is tailored to meet the individual city’s needs. Credit is given for city council retreats facilitated by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Some cities have an annual retreat, but credit toward the Municipal Training Institute certificate program is given for a maximum of 12 credit hours.
Revitalizing Neighborhoods – Tools for Local Officials (6 hour class)
This class provides an overview of the tools and resources available to cities interested in effectively responding to neighborhood problems such as dilapidated and unsafe structures, unsightly property, junk automobiles, weeds, trash and other nuisances. Topics include Georgia’s Urban Redevelopment law, code enforcement and land bank authorities.
Risk and Insurance 101  (3 hour class)
This interactive class provides an introduction to the concepts of risk management and insurance as they relate to municipalities. The class focuses on real world best practices involving risk avoidance, reduction and transfer through purchasing insurance, safety training, claims mitigation and implementation of proper policies and procedures. The participant will leave with a better understanding of ways to save money, provide for a safer environment and techniques to avoid many of the pitfalls that put your city and staff at risk. Subject matter experts will present this information through interactive classroom instruction and group problem solving sessions.
Robert E. Knox, Jr. Municipal Leadership Institute (multi-day class – 6 hour credit)
This class is an intensive multi-day event that focuses on helping city officials enhance and sharpen their leadership skills. Enrollment is limited so that participants can have a full exchange of ideas with instructors and other municipal officials. Completion of the Municipal Leadership Institute is required for municipal elected officials to receive a Certificate of Excellence, Certificate of Distinction and Certificate of Dedication.
Strong Communities – Strong Families (3 hour class)
Georgia communities and national studies confirm that the well-being of children and families directly impacts the vitality of a community and its economy. Municipal officials have learned that they can improve the outcomes for their community’s children and families. This class addresses the interplay of community, economic and human development. It focuses on helping local leadership assess their community’s indicators of child and family well-being, how to integrate resources on priority community problems and effective municipal strategies to coalesce the public will to create improvements.

Water Management — An Introduction for Local Governments (6 hour class) Water quality and water quantity are of vital importance and can provide some of the most challenging issues facing all levels of government in Georgia. Planning to meet water needs on the local level while also considering the needs of those who share the resource can be difficult. In 2011, in response to the Georgia State-wide Water Management Plan, Regional Water Plans were adopted throughout the State that provided recommendations to help address water quality and quantity issues at myriad levels, across myriad sectors. This class provides background on that process, presents issues highlighted in the plans and discusses ways in which local governments can secure their water future. It also includes an overview of the regulatory processes related to water management and water planning.