MMA Convention Gets ‘Back to Basics’

(from Maine Townsman, August 2005)
By Michael L. Starn, Editor

Start your engines and get ready to go . . . the 2005 MMA Convention is just around the corner. This year’s MMA Convention is scheduled for October 5, 6 and 7 at the Augusta Civic Center.

“Back to Basics:Efficient Services and Economic Vitality” is the theme for the 2005 convention. General sessions and Affiliate Group programs have been developed with this theme of “nuts & bolts” topics in mind.

This issue of the TOWNSMAN has a complete listing of the MMA general sessions and individual MMA Affiliate Group sessions. In the middle of the magazine is a registration flyer that includes general session highlights, a registration form, and a listing of motels for overnight accommodations. Registration can be done online at www.memun.org

FEATURED SPEAKERS

Two featured speakers for the 2005 convention are Tim Honey, executive director of Sister Cities International, and Jack Schultz, author of the book “Boomtown USA: The 7 ½ Keys to Big Success in Small Towns”. Both speakers are scheduled for Wednesday, October 5.

City manager in Portland during the early 1980s, Tim Honey now heads up Sister Cities International. In his work with Sister Cities, Honey has visited a number of different communities around the world and observed how local government works in other countries. Honey will open up the convention with a talk about “The Global Community.” The mission of Sister Cities is to “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation – one individual, one community at a time.”

Jack Schultz is the chief operating officer of Agracel, Inc., an industrial development firm. He is the guest speaker at the Wednesday luncheon. Since its inception in 1986, Agracel’s focus and passion has been to facilitate new jobs in the hi-tech and manufacturing sectors, specifically in small town American. Schultz’s book, Boomtown USA, constructs a case for business development in small towns.

SESSION HIGHLIGHTS

This year’s program is replete with information that will be valuable for you to take back to your community.

On Wednesday afternoon, the early sessions will cover municipal cash handling and internal controls and ways to make your community safer with the latest information on Homeland Security grants and programs and how they are impacting Maine. Late afternoon sessions will explain how to identify and curb violence in the workplace, and, especially for elected officials, provide a basic overview of performance evaluations and conducting effective meetings.

Thursday morning programs get down to “nuts & bolts” topics with sessions on municipal roads and sound financial policies. In the afternoon, concurrent sessions will be offered on municipal spending limits under LD 1 and the impact of military base closures. And, a three-hour program from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m., “Persuading & Influencing Through Leadership,” will give attendees another program option.

Friday morning’s program should be of great interest to municipal officials and school officials who have been trying to figure out the state’s new education funding model, Essential Programs & Services (EPS). Commissioner of Education Susan Gendron will kick off this half-day program at an early morning breakfast. Commissioner Gendron will talk about the state-local education partnership. Then, attendees can get down to the “nuts & bolts” of the new EPS school funding model. State, municipal and school officials will participate in this in-depth program to better understand EPS and how it is affecting school budgets and property taxes.

TECH TOWN

A unique and special program for convention attendees is being sponsored this year by the Maine Town & City Management Association. “Tech Town – Back to Basics” will provide an opportunity for convention goers to attend several short training sessions on basic computer software. The programs are being offered Wednesday and Thursday morning from 10:00 a.m. – 12 noon and in the afternoon , on both days, from 1:00 –3:00 p.m., followed by a Q & A session from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. each day. Sessions will cover several kinds of basic Microsoft office software, including Word, Excel, Outlook, Access and Powerpoint, and include presentations on desktop security and choosing an Internet browser.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

The MMA Convention is a lot more than just informational sessions.

Exhibits

The exhibit hall is an informative and fun place to visit. By mid-August, MMA had over 100 exhibitors signed up and are expecting the list to grow to about 120 exhibit booths. You will find consulting engineers, financial management specialists, computer software and hardware companies, snowplow dealers, highway equipment dealer and contractors, and much more. And, to make it more enticing, MMA and exhibitors have door prize drawings and other exhibit hall activities planned during the convention.

Welcoming Reception

The first day of convention concludes with the Welcoming Reception that is held in the exhibit area. This is a great opportunity to talk with exhibitors and other municipal officials. The reception is a lot of fun, so make sure to include it in your convention plans.

Banquet

MMA’s Annual Banquet will be held Thursday evening from 6:00 p.m. til 8:00 p.m., preceded by a reception that starts at 4:30 p.m. The banquet provides the entire municipal family with an opportunity to recognize the new president of MMA and some of standout officials in MMA Affiliate Groups (e.g., Fire Chief of the Year). The recipient of MMA’s prestigious Ethel N. Kelley Award is also honored at the banquet. Finally, the grand door prize drawing is held.