Municipal Leadership Academy

MLA is held after the regular city elections with Part One 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!

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 mayors and council members, especially those recently elected to office.

The three-part training series offers a comprehensive overview of city government that features multiple opportunities to gain valuable education and meet fellow city officials.

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.

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, detail 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
  • Community and economic development

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 municipal government and the responsibilities of city officials. The first part of MLA provides an overview of city government, offered through five in-person workshops around the state along with a virtual session. In addition, the 2024 Iowa Municipal Policy Leaders’ Handbook will be released at this time and shared with registrants.

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 effective meetings, develop efficient policy making processes and practice civility.

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.

Municipal Operations
Cities provide a wide variety of daily services to citizens, each of which come with different responsibilities and challenges. 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 One Locations

Thursday, November 30 | Holstein

Time: 4 – 8 p.m., Cobblestone Inn & Suites, 2011 Indorf Avenue, Holstein, IA 51025

Saturday, December 2 | Cedar Falls

Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Hilton Garden Inn, 7213 Nordic Drive, Cedar Falls, IA 50613

Thursday, December 7 | Carson

Time: 4 – 8 p.m., Community Center, 316 S Commercial Street, Carson, IA 51525

Saturday, December 9 | Iowa City

Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Big Grove Brewery, 1225 S Gilbert Street, Iowa City, IA 52240

Thursday, December 14 | Virtual

4 – 8 p.m. (via Zoom, details will be sent to registrants)

Saturday, December 16 | Grimes

Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Grimes Community Complex, 410 SE Main Street, Grimes, IA 52501

MLA Part Two

The second part of MLA is a set of virtual training sessions offered during the first week of January 2024. Each session in Part 2 will be held live via Zoom and registrants will receive an email with meeting details and presentation materials. Registrants will also receive an email the following week with links to the recorded videos. 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?
Wednesday, January 3 | 4-5:30 p.m.
This session covers strategies for success in office, including council meeting basics, handling human resources and employment issues, and an overview of roles and responsibilities in city government.

The City Budget
Thursday, January 4 | 2-3:30 p.m.
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, which is done during the winter months.

Basics of Planning and Zoning
Friday, January 5 | 10-11:30 a.m.
Get an overview of planning and zoning laws as well as the role and responsibilities of the planning and zoning 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. Part Three is held at five locations around the state with one virtual session.

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
Any successful city must think and act strategically by establishing priorities, setting goals and executing plans. This session will help attendees understand how to be strategic and discuss ways to work together.

MLA Part Three costs $80.

MLA Part Three Locations

Thursday, April 4, 2024 | Ottumwa

Time: 4 – 8 p.m., Bridge View Center, 102 Church Street, Ottumwa, IA 50111

Saturday, April 6, 2024 | Cedar Rapids

10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Radisson, 1200 Collins Road NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

Thursday, April 11, 2024 | Algona

Time: 4 – 8 p.m., Columbia Events Center, 1501 E Walnut, Algona, IA 51511

Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Harlan

Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., C.G. Therkildsen Activity Center, 706 Victoria Street, Harlan, IA 51537

Thursday, April 18, 2024 | Virtual

Time: 4 – 8 p.m., (via Zoom, details will be sent to registrants)

Saturday, April 20, 2024 | Ankeny

Time: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Courtyard by Marriott, 2405 SE Creekview Drive, Ankeny, IA 50021

IOWA League