Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Municipal Clerks Week Recognizes Local Service

MISSISSIPPI STATE –One of local government’s oldest and most essential jobs is being recognized for its services during an upcoming week of local, national and international activities.

The 44th annual Municipal Clerks Week will be observed May 5 – 11. During this week, municipal clerks in many of Mississippi’s cities, towns and villages will take part in activities to increase the public’s awareness of municipal clerks and the vital services they provide for local government and the community.
“Municipal or city clerks are the primary points of contact for the public with their local government,” said Eddie Myers, administrative director and city clerk for Hattiesburg. “We interact every day with people who have business with the city.”

Municipal clerks and their deputies prepare agendas, take minutes at meetings, maintain ordinance and resolutions files, keep the municipality’s historical records, process permits and serve as the clearinghouse for information about the local government.

“One of our most important responsibilities is advising the municipality’s governing boards about legislative restrictions that apply to the ordinances and resolutions they wish to enact,” Myers said.

The clerks also record the actions of the various commissions and committees appointed by the council. Many serve as financial officers or treasurers and, in small municipalities, may act as chief administrative officers. Another important responsibility is administering part or all of the local elections.

“The public often does not realize the work and time involved in preparing for an election,” Myers said. “It takes municipal clerks months to organize and prepare this key element in the democratic process, which must be done correctly for the whole system to work.”

Staying abreast of new computer applications, records management and other relevant information can be difficult. Many municipal and deputy clerks return to the classroom to learn new material and sharpen old skills.

The International Institute of Municipal Clerks, or IIMC, a professional non-profit association, prepares its membership to meet the challenge of the diverse role of the municipal clerk by providing services and continuing educational development opportunities through 46 permanent college- and university-based learning centers.

The Extension Service Center for Government and Community Development, or GCD, at Mississippi State University facilitates the state’s IIMC continuing education program.

“The GCD, the IIMC and the Municipal Clerks and Tax Collectors Association of Mississippi work together to provide a certification program,” said Janet Baird, GCD training specialist and Mississippi coordinator of the program. “This program allows local officials to gain greater expertise and professionalism, but the ultimate beneficiaries are the citizens who receive improved services.”

For information about the IIMC and its membership, visit http://www.iimc.com. To learn more about the GCD at Mississippi State University, go to http://gcd.msucares.com.

Writer: Bob Ratliff