Govt. training could be coming

A new training program for those involved in municipal government could make its way to Warren County.

Susan Hockenberry, with the Pittsburgh-based Local Government Academy, explained to the Warren County Council of Governments some of the options that could come this way for local officials, as well as others interested in the functioning of municipal government.

According to its website, the Local Government Academy has four primary goals which include: Support and promote a strong and responsive local government system, develop effective local leader, educate public officials, public employees and citizens and build collaborations and partnerships.

Hockenberry said that the non-profit was founded in 1983 when industry was leaving Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas. In attempting to answer the question “what should we help to do to respond to this once in a lifetime shift in these communities,” she explained, the LGA was born.

The non-profit offers a host of classes, webinars and programs, including newly-elected officials training as well as a Contemplating Government course, designed to serve as an introduction to serving in local government, among others.

While the group is focused in southwestern Pennsylvania, County Planner Dan Glotz asked whether the courses could be brought north.

“If we supported it, I think we could bring these here,” Pa Futures’ Alan Kugler, the COGs consultant, said. “I see this as part of the mission I do. I think we can do this. (The) thought is about partnering with COGs in the northwest.” He explained that he had conversations with COGs in the Erie area and “I know there is a lot of interest there.”

The biggest obstacle to bringing the courses this direction is cost. To those ends, Kugler suggested that the COG reach out to local foundations as potential funding partners.

“The way I see this working, the finances are locally raised,” said Hockenberry, explaining that their model for bringing in courses is “scaleable.” LGA is “trying to reach for something that is locally derived. We have a very low threshold in terms of what it takes … to use the name. All that really does is express a serious intention to create a LGA. The hard part is the start up.” She said that, moving forward, 80 percent of funding raised can be utilized for programming with overhead comprising the remaining 20 percent.

Warren County is part of an eight-county local development district knows as the Northwest Commission and Kugler said that “it was the Northwest Commission’s footprint that made sense to us” for bringing in LGA programming. “We have a number of COGs that would be interested in this, I believe.”