Municipal Leadership Academy

MLA is held after the regular city elections with Part 1 offered before the new mayor and council terms begin to give newly elected officials an opportunity to learn the basics of municipal government. The classes are also a great refresher course for veteran elected officials and city staff!

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MLA is designed to help all city officials better understand their role in municipal government and how to effectively serve their community. It is widely considered essential training for elected officials, especially those recently elected to office.

The three-part training series offers a comprehensive overview of city government and is presented by the Iowa League of Cities and the Office of State and Local Government Programs at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Leadership in city government involves making policy decisions that affect the daily lives of citizens. It is the duty of the mayor, council members and appointed staff to ensure the city fulfills its obligations under the law and effectively provides community services.

Municipal Leadership Academy

It is vital for mayors, council members, and other city officials to understand the essentials of city government. MLA will connect attendees with available resources, demonstrate how to comply with various state laws, and enhance policy-making and leadership skills.

• City finance and budgeting
• Effective council meetings
• Municipal operations
• Nuisance abatement
• Roles and responsibilities
• Human resources
• Land use and zoning

Both newly elected and veteran mayor and council members will benefit greatly from participating. MLA is also an excellent training opportunity for city staff, including city administrators, city clerks, and other city officials. All city officials are welcome!

MLA Part One

Successful leadership and management requires an understanding of the basics of city government and the responsibilities of city officials. The first part of MLA provides an overview of city government with a focus on the following topics:

Budget and Finance
A chief duty of the city council and staff is the development and approval of the annual city budget. This session will provide the basics of city budgets, including the property tax system, budget adoption schedules, revenue streams and expenditures.

Effective City Councils
Part of being a mayor or council member is learning to work as a team to accomplish the city’s goals. Learn strategies to conduct more efficient and effective meetings.

Municipal Operations
Cities provide a wide variety of daily services to citizens, each of which come with different responsibilities and concerns. Get a better understanding of your obligations under state and federal laws as well as how basic services are provided.

MLA Part One costs $80.

MLA Part Two

The second part of MLA is a set of online trainings held live in January 2024 – each training will be recorded for later viewing as well. Watch the videos all at once or separately in order to fit within a city’s orientation program for new officials.

You Got Elected, Now What?
This video covers strategies for success in office, handling human resources issues, council meeting basics and an overview of roles and responsibilities.

The City Budget
Build on the basic city finance information covered in MLA Part One by hearing how a city budget is developed. The main focus is getting attendees prepared to participate effectively in their city budget process.

Basics of Planning and Zoning
Get an overview of planning and zoning laws as well as the role and responsibilities of the planning commission, the board of adjustment and the city council.

MLA Part Two costs $60.

MLA Part Three

MLA Part Three builds on the understanding developed in the first two parts by covering specific issues and challenges that cities face, providing attendees tools to improve their communities.

Economic Development
Learn about the city’s role in economic development and the tools used by city governments to retain and attract businesses and housing. This session is essential to understanding the critical role city officials have in maintaining and improving their local economy.

Community Betterment
All want a healthy, clean and vibrant community, but it does not come easy. Hear how your city can proactively clean up properties and neighborhoods, improve its nuisance abatement efforts and boost community pride.

Acting Strategically
Discussion will focus on ways cities can determine priorities, set goals and carry out initiatives. Any successful city
must think and act strategically and this session will provide attendees tools to conduct planning and ways to work together.

MLA Part Three costs $80.

IOWA League