March 11, 2009
City managers to discuss their troubles at UI conference
It's been a tough year for Iowa's city managers.
The collapse of the housing market has cut property values, the economic recession has slowed local business development, and the ethanol and biofuels industry many towns pinned their economic development hopes on may be fading.
And in many cities, last year's floods and tornados have left damage that won't be fixed for years.
So this year's annual Iowa Municipal Managers Institute meeting at the University of Iowa will have a rather somber theme. Even the conference title --"Managing Under Pressure" -- reflects the times.
The Institute, sponsored by the UI College of Law's Institute of Public Affairs, will be held March 25-27 at the Iowa Memorial Union. More than 120 city administrators are expected to attend the conference, which the IPA is sponsoring for the 21st consecutive year.
"Municipal governments are facing difficulties on many fronts, which is especially hard now because people need government services the most when the economy is in poor shape," said Jeff Schott, director of the IPA and conference organizer.
Schott said the conference will give city managers the chance to trade notes and see how other towns and cities are dealing with the many problems they face. The conference will look at more than just economic and budget issues, though. Other panels will discuss contracting, risk management and diversity.
One roundtable that Schott thinks city managers will find particularly useful is the one about avoiding burn-out and dealing with stress.
Sandy Boyd, professor of law and president emeritus of the UI, will also speak at the organization's annual banquet on March 26 about managing under pressure. Schott said Boyd knows the topic well, as he was president during numerous student demonstrations on campus in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Scott said the Institute is an example of the university providing a vital service to the state.
"It's the foremost professional development conference for city managers and administrators not just in Iowa, but throughout the Upper Midwest," he said.
The conference is co-sponsored by the Iowa City/County Management Association and the Iowa League of Cities.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500