If you're a newly elected city official, GMA has the resources to help you get off to the right start with information on ethics filings, open meetings, government charters and much more.
Help for Newly Elected Officials
50 Survival Tips for Newly Elected Officials covers the basics as you begin your term in elected office.
As part of GMA’s commitment to expand cost-effective learning and networking opportunities for elected officials, newly elected officials have the opportunity to obtain support, guidance, and encouragement from seasoned elected officials through the GMA Mentoring Program.
GMA's comprehensive online guide to municipal government, Handbook for Georgia Mayors and Council Members, is specifically designed for Georgia's elected officials.
A GMA staff representative is assigned to each of GMA's 12 Districts. Find out how the District program works and who you can call for help. And don't hesitate to contact any GMA staff member if you have a question that needs answering.
Learning About Your City
A city’s charter outlines its structure and form of government, administrative duties, financial procedures, judicial functions and powers, and election procedures. Many municipal charters can be found on the Municode website.
Although we want to be as helpful as possible, GMA staff attorneys do not have an attorney-client relationship with your city or its officials and cannot provide legal advice as a substitute for the city attorney. Because of the lack of an attorney-client relationship, your communications with GMA staff attorneys may not be confidential and you may not rely on their guidance as legal advice. Our role is to answer general municipal law questions for city officials and serve as a professional resource for your city attorney. Every city official should consult with their city attorney on specific legal issues because they are most familiar with your city’s charter, ordinances and local circumstances, and they directly represent the city in legal matters.
GMA's Directory of Member Cities includes links to city websites where you can find out about municipal staff, services provided, and financial data posted by each city.
Use one of GMA's Data Tools to find demographic data for your city and all other cities in the state.
Day-to-Day Duties of An Elected Official
The Meetings Procedure, Organization, and Public Participation chapter from the Handbook for Georgia Mayors and Councilmembers will help you learn how to run a meeting. Also, GMA's publication Parliamentary Procedure: A Guide for City Officials is a good resource for you to review.
In this age of increased transparency in government, it is important to know and understand Georgia's Open Meetings/Records laws. The Open Meetings and Open Records chapter from the Handbook for Georgia Mayors and Councilmembers, and the GMA publication Government In the Sunshine can help you navigate this increasingly important issue area for city officials.
Some other chapters from the Handbook for Georgia Mayors and Councilmembers that GMA recommends are:
Visit the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission to learn how to complete the required campaign and financial disclosure reports and to locate the forms needed as a candidate and public official. Also, the filing schedule for campaign reports and personal financial disclosure reports, along with the information about filing late fees and fines, is also available on the site.
Ethics in Government: Charting the Right Course is a GMA publication that takes a deep dive into state laws governing ethics and highlights issues surrounding development of local codes as well as day-to-day dilemmas you may encounter as a city officials.
Ethics, Conflict of Interest, and Abuse of Office is a chapter from the Handbook for Georgia Mayors and Councilmembers that can help you understand potential conflict of interest provisions for meetings and land use decisions.
Policy and Legislation
One of GMA's primary responsibilities is to advocate for Georgia's cities at the state and federal level. You can use the GMA website to find out who your legislators are as well as learn about GMA's policy platform.
GMA invites you to learn about and participate in the association's grassroots policy process and become involved by becoming a member of one or more of GMA’s six policy committees by completing the sign-up form.
When the Georgia General Assembly meets in each legislative session, GMA encourages you to visit its online Legislative Tracking to stay on top of legislative changes during the session.
One thing every city can do each year is hold a Hometown Connection to build relationships with both state and federal leaders.
As a new elected official, you are required by state law to attend the Newly Elected Officials Institute to gain a better understanding of city government. GMA offers additional training opportunities through the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute. Regional workshops, online webinars, videos and publications provide more detailed information as well.
GMA Services and Programs
GMA offers a number of service that help cities operate more efficiently. The association also offers a number of revenue recovery services to help your city recover revenues owed to it. GMA also has a number of purchasing and financing programs that make saving money easy. A number of insurance and retirement programs are also available for your city to use.
Held each year in Atlanta in late January, the Cities United Summit is open to all elected officials and city staff. This conference usually has an attendance of approximately 1,000 and focuses on legislative issues.
Georgia Cities Week is an annual event held every April that is designed to raise public awareness of the services cities provide and the role they play in providing great quality of life.
The GMA Annual Convention is held in Savannah in late June with a variety of training sessions being offered on three days. Policy committees meet to develop the preliminary legislative platform for the following year, while other sessions allow cities to share their best practices in various areas. About 200 exhibitors showcase their programs and services in the Exhibition Hall. Attendance at this convention is typically over 2,000.
Partners who Support Local Government
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs maintains a wealth of resources for cities including research about cities, grants and loans, and planning and economic development resources.
The Carl Vinson Institute of Government also maintains resources for cities including videos and tutorials as well as publications and reports.