In attendance at Mayors’ Day
By Stephanie Johns
The Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) sponsored its annual Mayors’ Day Conference late January. Two councilmen, two city staff and a member of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) were in attendance to represent Madison.
Councilman Michael Naples attended a pre-session workshop titled The Role of City Officials in Education and a training class titled Building Hometown Connections: Lobbying 101.
The three-hour course on education taught attendees how they can get involved with public education. He noted that this workshop was well attended with 400 or more present.
The lobbying class encouraged attendees to be calm and cool when interacting with legislators regarding bills that come before them.
Another thing they learned: the importance of having their facts in order, which entails knowing the pros and cons when advocating on behalf of one’s city.
Role playing gave those present a chance to practice how they would respond to common concerns legislators put forth, such as the tough budget and the bad economy.
Overall, Naples said the conferences – he has attended eight Mayors’ Day conferences to date – have benefitted him.
“I’ve learned an awful lot,” he said. “They’ve really helped me understand city government.”
City Planning Director Monica Callahan spoke at the Community Development Policy Committee meeting.
She said there were between 150 and 200 people in the room as she talked about how Madison uses 10 to 15 different redevelopment tools provided by the state.
She also spoke about the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Act the next day. She explained that this act, introduced by Rep. Allen Peake, includes tax credits for investment in downtowns.
City Manager David Nunn serves on the Board of Trustees at GMA. He attended one of their board meetings the day before the conference.
He also took a class on council-staff relations. He noted they had a lot of interaction in class. They talked about the different forms of government and the roles of government. Also, they talked about the ways cities can apply the big picture to their situation.
“The interesting thing was, they had cities there that were very new,” he said, citing Milton as an example. He explained that Milton hires contractors as opposed to offering many services older municipalities offer.
Also, Councilman Joe DiLetto attended a class titled Municipal Finance I and DDA member Ed Latham attended DDA training while at the conference.
DiLetto said the general tone of Mayors’ Day was “very positive and very informative.” He added that it was time and money “extremely well spent.”
Printed in the February 7, 2013 edition