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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 and their deputies serve as the clearinghouse for information about the local government,” said Janet Baird, training specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service’s Center for Government and Community Development. “Their duties include preparing agendas, taking minutes, maintaining ordinance and resolutions files, keeping the municipality’s historical records and processing permits.”
Because of the variety of their responsibilities, the clerks are the municipal employees most citizens are likely to meet.
“We are the primary point 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.”
Clerks also work closely with their city’s governing boards.
“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. “In reality, 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.”
To stay abreast of new computer applications, records management and other relevant information, many municipal and deputy clerks return to the classroom to increase their knowledge of these issues, learn new material and sharpen old skills.
The International Institute of Municipal Clerks, or IIMC, a professional non-profit association, prepares its members 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.
In Mississippi, the IIMC continuing education program is facilitated by the MSU Extension Service’s Center for Government and Community Development.
“The center, the IIMC and the Municipal Clerks and Tax Collectors Association of Mississippi work together to provide a certification program,” said Baird, who serves as coordinator of the IICM certification program. “The certification program allows local officials to gain greater expertise and professionalism, but the ultimate beneficiaries are the citizens who receive improved services.”