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Required Courses

State Mandated Training for Municipal Elected Officials 

Newly Elected Officials Institute
The Newly Elected Officials Institute provides a general overview of the function of municipal government in Georgia and the roles and responsibilities of mayors and councilmembers. The class includes an introduction to key issues such as ethics, municipal finance, planning and zoning, open meetings, open records and parliamentary procedures. All municipal elected officials taking office since July 1, 1990 are required by state law to complete the Newly Elected Officials Institute. (This class provides 6 hours of credit)

Required Classes for Municipal Training Institute Certificates

* - An asterisk beside a course title indicates that the class is recommended for newly elected and first-term officials.

Community and Media Relations* (6 hour class)
This class examines the importance of building effective working relationships with the media and the role the media plays in informing the public and shaping their opinion of municipal governments. Advice for repairing poor relationships is provided, along with insights on when and how to speak with reporters, especially during times of crisis.
Conflict Resolution* (6 hour class)
This class explores strategies and techniques for successfully resolving conflict through negotiation and mediation. Emphasis is placed on identifying the sources of conflict and the personality styles of the parties involved.
Economic Development (6 hour class)
This class provides a basic overview of the economic development process, with a focus on the strategies, resources and programs employed by the state of Georgia to assist communities in achieving success in today’s global economy. Topics such as community development building blocks, business development strategies, regional cooperation, and the role of local leadership in economic development are covered.
Emergency Management (6 hour class)
This class is aimed at providing municipal officials with a general understanding of the roles of local, state and federal government in responding to and helping communities recover from both natural and man-made disasters. The function of local emergency management agencies and important legal and financial issues that arise during times of emergency and disaster are also discussed.
Ethics* (6 hour class) 
This class examines the importance of ethical conduct in the administration of one’s public duties and how ethical lapses can severely damage the reputation of both individual officeholders and the city. An overview of state ethics laws and regulations that apply to municipal officials, including campaign financing and private interest disclosure requirements, is provided. Ethical dilemmas that often confront public officials and the value of strong local ethics ordinances are also discussed.
Human Resources I (6 hour class)
This class provides an overview of state and federal personnel law that apply to municipal governments and the basics of human resource management. Key topics include day-to-day issues facing human resource staff, the role of the personnel manager, establishing and adhering to sound personnel policies and procedures, and dealing with the media. This class is also available as an online class.

Making Citizen Engagement Work in our Communities* (6 hour class)
This class explores the importance of getting citizens engaged in the process of governance. The class exposes officials to the concept of deliberative forums, a method of citizen engagement that brings diverse community interests together to explore policy options and share insights, ideas and suggestions in a structured setting. Participants will receive tips, tools and other resources for recruiting citizens, creating productive conversations, and encouraging citizens to be involved in local problem solving.
Municipal Courts Post-Ferguson: Promoting Justice, Protecting City Assets (3 hour class) (New) This class provides an orientation on the basic operation of municipal courts with respect to the adjudication and enforcement of traffic offenses, certain misdemeanors and municipal ordinance violations. While providing a basic introduction to municipal courts, this class also delves into the responsibilities and requirements elected officials need to know to ensure their municipal courts are providing proper constitutional protections to members of the public in the court. Specifically, this class looks at the role of municipal courts, law enforcement, and municipal elected officials in the justice system in light of recent monumental and precedential legal issues that have arisen throughout the country. Additionally, this class analyzes the responsibilities of the court, contracted parties, and elected officials under Georgia law, with a focus on criminal justice reform changes enacted by the Georgia legislature. This class includes some of the material from the old Municipal Courts class.

Municipal Finance I* (6 hour class)
This class is intended to serve as a basic primer on municipal finance issues that all mayors and councilmembers should understand. Included in this general overview is a discussion of the budget process, the revenue sources available to cities, purchasing policies and financing capital improvements.
Municipal Finance II (6 hour class)
This class emphasizes the importance of establishing sound financial policies and provides participants with a better understanding of how to read and understand audited city financial statements, assess the effectiveness of internal accounting controls and manage a city’s cash and investments. This class may be taken before or after Municipal Finance I.
Municipal Law* (6 hour class)
This class reviews the sources and limitations of authority granted to municipal governments by the federal and state constitutions, as well as statutes enacted by the U.S. Congress and Georgia General Assembly. The role and function of the municipal charter is also discussed. Other key topics covered during this class include municipal contracts, annexation, legal aspects of boards and authorities and the personal liability of public officials.
Municipal Taxation 101 - The Basics (New 3-hour format) The class gives municipal officials a broad understanding of the fundamentals of local government taxation with an in-depth look at the two primary funding sources for local government in Georgia: property tax and sales tax. Participants will gain an understanding of tax language and appropriate usage 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.

Municipal Water and Wastewater Systems (3 hour class) (New)
Water and wastewater services are fundamental to the operation of a city. This class provides an overview of the management of these services and introduces participants to the important role of water in community health, quality of life and economic development. This class also describes various service delivery methods and discusses the challenges and opportunities that municipal officials face in providing water and wastewater services to their customers.
Open Meetings* (3 hour class)
This class familiarizes municipal officials with Georgia’s open meetings law and the potential consequences for failing to adhere to it. Hypothetical scenarios are used to give participants a better understanding of their responsibilities and obligations for complying with these statutes.
Open Records* (3 hour class)
This class familiarizes municipal officials with Georgia’s open records law and the potential consequences for failing to adhere to it. Hypothetical scenarios are used to give participants a better understanding of their responsibilities and obligations for complying with these statutes.
Practices for Successful Meetings* (3 hour class)
The success of a city is often gauged by how its residents perceive city council meetings. This class is designed to give elected officials and others a practical understanding of the most commonly-used procedures available to govern meetings. The basic tenants of Robert’s Rules of Order, as well as alternatives to Robert’s, are taught in a manner that seeks to arm presiding officials with the tools necessary to run successful and productive gatherings of their elected officials and other meetings necessary to operate their cities.
Planning and Zoning (6 hour class)
This class examines the difficult choices municipal officials encounter in stimulating economic well-being, protecting public infrastructure investment and maintaining environmental integrity. It examines legal considerations for planning and zoning, the role of the mayor and council and practical steps for maintaining a comprehensive plan and effective zoning procedures. In addition, the class highlights issues, barriers and policy solutions associated with efforts to achieve desirable patterns of development.
Public Policy Development and Implementation* (3 hour class)
Developing policy to advance the vision of the city is one of the most important duties that a mayor and council perform. This class is designed to give municipal officials an understanding of the importance of that function and the role of the elected officials and professional staff in developing, implementing and evaluating those policies. Participants learn how to effectively use policy-making models in the development of practical public policy that will benefit their communities and constituents.
Public Works and Transportation (3 hour class)
Public works services, including transportation, are fundamental to the operation of a city. This session introduces participants to the types of services provided through public works departments and the important role those services play in community health, quality of life and economic development.
Roles and Responsibilities of Council and Staff* (3 hour class)
While municipal elected officials have the responsibility to develop policies to effectively address complex issues and problems that are often unique to cities, they typically must rely on public sector employees to implement them. In this class, the different perspectives of council and staff are explored in order to identify ways for them to collaborate in addressing public problems.
Advanced Leadership Track
The advanced leadership track includes three six-hour classes from the required list and must be completed to earn the Certificate of Dedication. Completion of the Certificate of Achievement is a pre-requisite for the Advanced Leadership classes.

Public Problems, Democratic Decisions - The Governing Role of Mayors and Councilmembers (6 hour class)
Public officials will explore the democratic context of leading and governing. It addresses the role of elected officials in a democratic society, the relationship between elected and appointed officials, the core values underlying public problems and choices, and the reasons why councils can make better choices than individuals. The goals of this class are to help public officials better understand their roles in leading and governing their communities, to develop a better understanding of what councils do and why, and to develop practical skills in public problem solving and decision making. Participants learn how to use public problems to discuss the kind of community they want to build and how to ensure that their choices and decisions preserve the fundamental goals of our democratic society.
Governing the Commons: Collective Decision Making in Complex Systems (6 hour class) (New)
Making decisions within a single jurisdiction is complicated enough, but relatively simple compared to the complexity of decisions multiple jurisdictions must often make among themselves. In this class, participants explore first-hand some of the critical leadership challenges involved in collective decision making, such as how should such decisions be made? what form should they take? how should they be governed, monitored and enforced? and how should costs and benefits be allocated?
How Shall We Live? Practical Ethics for Public Life (6 hour class) (New)
Ethics is often seen as something that is lacking in public officials, and therefore must be imposed on them through laws and training. Ethics training may promote awareness and compliance, but it does not promote ethical excellence. In this class, participants explore the advantages and limitations of codified ethics; how values, morality, virtue, character, and obligations play out in everyday decision making; why ethical dilemmas arise and how we resolve them; virtues and temptations of leadership; and how public service constitutes a moral and ethical enterprise for public leaders.
For more information on GMA training opportunities, please contact:
  • Aileen Harris at (678) 686-6293 or AHarris at gmanet.com 
Course Presentations