What is Clerks Academy?
What does a city clerk do? Most city staff will tell you — it’s everything. Clerks Academy is designed to help clerks take on this complex role.
The League of Minnesota Cities Clerks Academy is an annual event that covers a broad range of topics, introducing newly appointed clerks to essential resources as well as people at the League who can help them along the way.
This year, 109 city clerks participated in the Academy, combining online courses with a two-day, in-person cohort in St. Paul or Staples. Most completed over 15 hours of city-centered education.
A number of clerks at our 2023 Academy represented small cities with populations under 5,000. Even in larger cities, the city clerks in attendance told us that they wear multiple hats—handling everything from planning and zoning to payroll to meeting minutes.
Networking and Support
Day to day, being a city clerk can be a solitary job, so attendees quickly connected during the Clerks Academy cohorts. Clerks traded stories and compared processes with their peers. One of the most popular sessions was our Building Bridges panel event, where attendees had the opportunity to pose their difficult questions to a panel of experienced clerks.
“As a clerk, I have never had the same experience two days in a row,” panelist Kari Tillman, Zimmerman City Clerk and MCFOA President said. “It’s so important to stay connected with organizations like the League and MCFOA.”
Meeting Management and Legalese
Can a city council member call into a meeting? Does posting meeting minutes on the city website meet publication requirements?
Research Manager Amber Eisenschenk talked through Open Meeting Law, meeting notices, and minute-taking and posting requirements. In addition to regular sessions, staff attorneys also hosted a Q&A, allowing participants to ask their most pressing questions related to land use, city statutes, personnel policies, and more.
Money Management, Budgets, and Procurement
Clerks in attendance learned best practices to manage public funds and assets in a transparent, responsible way. The group was trained to spot improper spending, plan budgets, and track city revenues and expenditures. They also dipped their toes into keeping their data and digital footprint protected from cyber threats.
Human Resources, Insurance, and Much More
The city clerk job description is often stretched to take on “other duties as assigned.” Our cohorts tackled the nuts and bolts of hiring, firing, and managing a city workforce. Presenters talked through coverages with the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust and received recommendations on keeping residents and employees safe through basic loss-control measures. From on-call firefighter payroll to rental agreements, clerks were able to sort through their cities’ personnel- and asset-management concerns with LMC staff.
See you in 2024
If you missed your opportunity to attend this year’s Clerks Academy, or if you know a new city clerk who would benefit from this training, rest assured — Clerks Academy will return in fall 2024.
Thank you to the clerks, mentors, and staff at League of Minnesota Cities and Sourcewell for making this legacy event another success.
Special thanks to Ehlers, a longtime sponsor of the Clerk’s Academy.