If you are new to the role of being a City Clerk, you are likely aware of the challenges and rewards that come with the position. Being a City Clerk in a smaller city can include a diverse range of responsibilities from record-keeping and public meetings to community event coordination and financial administration, but often with limited resources and budgets. To support your commitment to this role, we have pulled together some tips and resources to help you succeed in this leadership role.
Embrace the Unique Nature of Small Cities
Working in a small city offers a unique experience compared to larger urban areas. Embrace the close community ties and the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of your fellow residents. Understanding the specific needs and dynamics of your unique small town will help you tailor your plan of action and goals while fostering unity within city leadership. Your influence in this role has a great impact on your community!
In small cities, personal connections are crucial. Get to know your colleagues, local officials, and community members and learn how you can collaborate. Attending local events, town gatherings, and neighborhood meetings is a great way to build trust and strengthen relationships within the community.
Optimize Limited Resources
Small cities often have limited resources, so creative strategies for success are necessary. Digital tools can help automate record keeping and reduce some manual labor. Since funding can also be limited for small cities, be aware of grant opportunities that align with your city’s needs and objectives and position yourself with partners who understand and care about your city’s needs and want to help. Outsourcing certain non-core functions and knowing when to collaborate or share services can also reduce expenses and increase efficiency.
Foster Open Communication
Transparent communication is the cornerstone of small-town governance and City Clerks are often a main point of contact for sharing information about city events, special projects, or other concerns. Ensure that communication channels are accessible and easy to use for citizens, especially as you are getting to know your community as a new City Clerk. Face-to-face interactions and an open-door policy help encourage dialogue and community engagement. Social Media can also be a great way to communicate and engage with people in your community.
Stay Updated with Minnesota Laws and Regulations
City Clerks in Minnesota must stay informed about state-specific laws and regulations. Attend Minnesota Municipal Clerks Association events, workshops, and training sessions to keep current with the latest developments and ensure compliance. An upcoming event that we highly recommend for new City Clerks is the League of Minnesota Cities Clerks Academy which is coming up in September!
Adaptability is Key (especially in Small Cities)
Working in a small city often means wearing multiple hats and being the liaison between the city council, city staff, and the public. Be adaptable and open to taking on diverse responsibilities beyond your core role. Your versatility will be an asset in serving the city effectively. There is no doubt that the role of City Clerk is vital to city operations. As a new City Clerk, you’ll be better equipped to serve your community effectively by embracing the unique aspects of small-town life, optimizing limited resources, and being adaptable. At Bollig Engineering, we work with small cities like yours to strengthen, preserve, and transform the future and quality of life in our communities.
2023 Clerks Academy is a blended learning program built around ten core competencies that City Clerks need, and provides a focus on the values, knowledge, and skills to set City Clerks up for success. Courses include: The Multiple Roles of City Clerks, Building a Foundation for Risk Management, Human Resources Essentials for City Clerks, Open Meeting Law for City Clerks, Filling a Council Vacancy, Elections Administration, Code Enforcement, Financial Fundamentals for City Clerks, Data Practices for City Clerks, Recognizing and Preventing the Misuse of Public Funds, Cybersecurity, and more. If you have been in the position of City Clerk for less than two years, consider attending the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) Clerks Academy Sept. 7-8, 2023 in St. Paul, MN or Sept. 14-15, 2023 in Staples, MN.
Register and Learn more here.