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2017 Contemplating Governing

Session 1 of Contemplating Governing: “Tackling Candidate Red Tape” online course is now available.  

The purpose of this session is to educate candidates on the important deadlines and filing requirements they will face in order to appear on the May 16th Pennsylvania primary ballot. Each of the documents referred to in this session can be found in the “Resources” tab in the course.  

Click here to add this $5 course to your LGAonline shopping cart.  

What is it like to serve in local office?
Contemplating Governing is an introduction to serving in local government. These sessions will help individuals decide if local government service is right for them and encourage responsible campaigning. Contemplating Governing is not political training. Instead, it focuses on the tasks and issues facing local government in the 21st century. This program provides citizens the chance to consider the opportunities, challenges, requirements and reasons to serve in local elected office. Topics include: 

  • Understanding the Pennsylvania local government environment, including powers and duties of various boards and commissions, such as city and borough councils, township commissioners or supervisors and school boards. 
  • Overcoming obstacles to running and meeting legal requirements. 
  • Determining what is a responsible campaign pledge. 
  • Understanding local government taxation and services. 
  • Measuring board effectiveness. 
  • Local government’s important role in community sustainability. 

About Contemplating Governing 

Cultivating leadership – Both elected officials and the general public should be on the lookout for future community leaders. Succession planning is an ongoing consideration for all organizations, both public and private. Municipal officials, are you encouraging citizens to step up and get involved in their communities? By encouraging them to consider elected office, you are performing a valuable service to your constituents. 

Certificate of Achievement – Participants’ time and effort will be recognized at the end of the course. Those completing the entire course will receive a certificate of achievement. 

Pledge to Excellence – Candidates for local office are encouraged to sign the Academy’s Pledge to Excellence, demonstrating their commitment to good government and their pursuit of excellence while in office. Candidates – click here for more information and to sign the Pledge to Excellence. To see a list of candidates who have signed the Pledge to Excellence in 2015, go to the Candidates List. 

After the Election – LGA will be here to support candidates transition to office after the general election through the Newly Elected Officials Course. This one-of-a kind course, unique in Pennsylvania for its scope and content, is held following every local election. The Newly Elected Officials Course provides a comprehensive review of the basic duties of municipal officials, taught by experts in their fields. 

 Session 1 of Contemplating Governing: “Tackling Candidate Red Tape” is now available.  

Click here to add this $5 course to your LGAonline shopping cart. 
Register Now

Embracing Community Initiative – Crowdfunding via ioby (In Our Backyard)

Sustainable Community Development Network Webinar: Embracing Community Initiative – Crowdfunding via ioby (In Our Backyard)
Wednesday February 15, 2017
12:00PM – 1:00PM
Click here to register
Hosted by Sustainable Pittsburgh and Local Government Academy.

This free webinar, presented for local government leaders in Southwestern PA, provides an introduction to an innovative new means for funding small projects while catering to community interests.
The nonprofit, ioby, connects ideas to create change with the resources to make it happen by using crowdfunding (pooling of small online donations) to drive projects to success.

An important part of managing a high performing municipality is successfully interacting with and incorporating the needs and desires of your constituents, while respecting the fiscal constraints of your administration. Providing motivated community members with new means to self-fund projects is a win-win for meeting local enthusiasm, empowering activity, and implementing new initiatives.

Take part in the webinar to learn how ioby (in our backyard) helps municipalities around the country use crowdfunding tools to advance sustainability goals. ioby’s David Weinberger will introduce the art of crowdfunding and then he will review best municipal practices in crowdfunding to seed resident-led initiatives.

This webinar is best suited for municipalities that are developing or evaluating their community engagement strategies. We will also spend some time discussing the impacts of city/municipal-led crowdfunding programs on community ownership of sustainability agendas and capital projects.

Click here to register

The 2017 Municipal Intern Program is Underway!

Students can click here to register.

Municipalities, COGs and Authorities can click here to submit a project application.

Paid internships provide students who are considering a career in government an opportunity for real world experience. Local governments have also found that internships are a great way to get projects completed by enthusiastic students anxious to show what they can do.

Each year, the Local Government Academy brings students and potential employers together at the Municipal Internship Fair.  The intern fair will be on March 30, 2017, from 12pm – 2:30pm, in the Kurtzman Room of the William Pitt Union, University of Pittsburgh. Click here to add the intern fair to your calendarClick here to download a flyer.

Interested undergraduate and graduate students are invited to register to participate in the 2017 Municipal Intern Program.

Municipalities, authorities and Councils of Governments in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Washington counties, or municipalities under Act 47, or participating in the state’s DCED Early Intervention Program, are encouraged to participate.  Click here for more information or to submit a project application.

Look for an announcement of the selected projects early on March 6, 2017.


Powers and Duties of Local Officials

The public meeting of any local government is where the rubber meets the road.  This is where rules are enacted, money is authorized to be spent, developers are given the go ahead for a project and the needs of the citizens are attended to. Each meeting flows following an agenda carefully designed to accomplish the work of the government and to inform the citizens of what is happening.

Vital to the operation of good local government is an understanding of the powers and duties of local elected and nonelected officials as set out by state and federal statutes and regulations. These statutes and regulations guide officials in how they can proceed within their roles to best serve their communities.  In order to fully understand these powers and their limits as well as the roles of elected officials to make local government work, LGA is offering this educational course: Powers and Duties of Local Officials. You will learn about these powers, the limits established by state and federal laws, the Sunshine At, “Right to Know” requests and response options, and tricks of the trade for running a successful public meeting.

Registration is now open.

Instructors for this course include:

Scholarships and discounts are available to communities on this list. If your community is eligible, contact Justin Philman at or 412-586-5659 for the coupon code to use during checkout.

Click here to add this $20 course to your LGAonline shopping cart.

Click here to register

Managing Marcellus: Understanding Pipelines-What Local Governments and Planners Need to Know

pipeline-geology-largeIn-person Session:
Thursday September 29, 2016
6PM to 8:30PM

Washington & Jefferson College
Burnett Center (Yost Auditorium)
292 E Wheeling St.
Washington, PA 15301 (map)

Register now! $50 for the 4 session course (scholarships are available).

Pipeline development has the potential to be the most lasting impact incurred by local communities experiencing unconventional gas development.  In this series, Local Government Academy and Center for Energy Policy and Management at Washington and Jefferson College present a detailed consideration of what local governments and planners need to know.

“Understanding Pipelines” kicks off September 29, 2016 at the Yost Auditorium on the campus of Washington and Jefferson College.  At that in-person program, participants will build their understanding of pipelines from a systems point of view.  What are pipelines and why do we need them?  How do the pipelines in Pennsylvania fit in the the larger national and even international network?

This session will be followed by a series of webinars designed to build off of the introductory program.

  • October 14, 2016, 12:00 – 1:00PM Webinar – “Pipeline Safety and Quantifying Risk”
    • Are Pipelines Safe?
    • Who oversees the safety of pipelines? Fed/State/Local roles
    • Emergency Responders – Best Practices and lessons learned from recent examples such as Salem Township
  • October 21, 2016, 12:00 – 1:00PM  Webinar – “Benefiting Your Community: What to Expect and What to Request in the Process of Pipeline Development
    • Land use and future development implications
    • Development Considerations – local ordinances, SALDO, zoning
    • Community Engagement
  • October 28, 12:00 – 1:00PM Webinar – “Shedding Light on the Pipeline Development Process”
    • What is the Regulatory Framework that reviews/permits/supervises pipelines?  What factors do they consider, such as cultural and historic resources and endangered species?
    • How are pipelines designed, routed and maintained?
    • How do pipelines impact the environment?

Click here to access LGA’s Course Catalog. Add “Managing Marcellus: Understanding Pipelines – What Local Governments and Planners Need to Know” to your shopping cart.

Scholarships and discounts are available to communities on this list . If your community is eligible, contact Justin Philman at or 412-586-5659 for the coupon code to use during checkout.

PA Conservation Explorer Tool

explorer toolClick here to register for this archived webinar, recorded July 27, 2016.

This presentation will introduce participants to the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program (PNHP) and the award-winning Pennsylvania Conservation Explorer, an online tool for conservation planning and PNDI environmental review.

The tool provides access to biodiversity information, leading to better planning and fewer project impacts on rare, threatened, endangered species and resources of special concern.

Participants will learn how to

  • Generate custom conservation planning reports
  • Create PNDI receipts for pre-screening land use changes and ground-disturbing projects
  • Search the online map for natural resource features and their attributes

Registered users of the tool can explore areas for potential impacts to rare, threatened and endangered species habitats. Topics covered in this webinar will include:

  • Mapping, searching and changing base layers;
  • Displaying and sharing conservation information for planning and environmental reviews;
  • Querying the map for protected lands, species habitats, and high-value surface water resources;
  • Compiling natural heritage area inventory reports;
  • Importing shapefiles and map services to perform project screenings;
  • Previewing screening areas and analysis layers;
  • Viewing submitted projects and their status; and
  • Uploading project documents for review.

Kent Taylor is a Natural Resources Program Specialist at the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Bureau of Forestry in Harrisburg. He has 23 years of experience working for state and local governments and non-profit organizations in six U.S. states and three foreign countries.

As Associate Director at Openlands in Chicago, Kent was one of the coauthors of the award-winning Chicago Wilderness’ Biodiversity Recovery Plan, and he led one of the first regional metropolitan-area water trails projects in the U.S.

Since 2004, Kent has led numerous projects to automate web mapping applications in health, environmental protection, natural resources, and recreational trails and greenways. Kent has served on several advisory boards and is currently helping lead an effort to develop the 1,300-mile September Eleventh National Memorial Trail.

This presentation is available at no charge, but you must register through LGA Online (first time users to LGA Online will need to set up a user account then click “I Have an Enrollment Key” at the bottom. Returning users can just sign in).

Act Now to Share Your Transportation Needs

Transportation is an issue that affects all of our communities.  That is why Local Government Academy is partnering with the Regional rtaTransportation Alliance of SWPA, a new public-private effort to improve transportation for our business and residents in the 10-county greater Pittsburgh region, to ask you, the municipal leadership of our region, to share your thoughts about the most important unaddressed transportation priorities for your area and constituents.

Beyond maintenance, are there projects that would have a large impact on your community that lack funding?  Is there a transit improvement that would make a big difference to your community?  Is there a policy change or jurisdiction-coordination opportunity?

Please let us know your opinion about what the two top priority transportation needs are for your community.  Please share your ideas using the link to the online form below by Friday, September 16th 2016.

Click here to share your top two transportation ideas

It’s very important that your local perspective is included in this regional process so that it can reflect the different mobility and connectivity needs in the region.

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development is providing staff support for this initiative.  If you have any questions, please contact the RTA project manager Carly Dobbins-Bucklad at 412-281-4783 ext. 3117 or  More information about the Regional Transportation Alliance and this initiative is available at the website


Local Government Academy Executive Director Leaving Post

Susan Hockenberry, Executive Director of Local Government Academy, is leaving the post after 14 years.  Hockenberry will assume the responsibilities of the Quaker Valley Council of Governments in September.

“I treasure the work of the Academy and relationships we have built with local officials.  I am excited for this next chapter in my life and confident that a mission as compelling as LGA’s will find future success with renewed energy as a result of this transition,” Hockenberry said.

Hockenberry came to LGA in 2002 after serving as the Director of Administration and Finance at O’Hara Township for a number of years prior.  During her tenure the Academy grew in both support and programming and now serves the 10-county region through its Newly Elected Officials Course and a variety of online offerings.

“Susan has made significant contributions to LGA,” said Art Tintori, Local Government Academy Board Chairman. “Her drive and dedication in promoting excellence in local government has elevated the organization. It is with warmest personal regards that we wish Susan success as she assumes her new position.”

The current course catalog allows LGA to continue to provide training to local communities after Hockenberry’s departure.  The Academy Board of Directors will examine a number of options for the future, including conducting a search for a new Executive Director.

Fraud Overview and Prevention

GasbFree online course, available now!

CPA Tim Morgus, of Maher Duessel CPAs, presents “Fraud Overview and Prevention.” Fraud is an intentional act involving deception to obtain an unjust or illegal advantage. Local governments experiencing fraud face loss of assets, fiscal position and public trust. External audits do not protect against fraud, as such local government officials need to know how to spot and combat fraud.

This 30 minute presentation is available at no charge, but you must register through LGA Online (first time users to LGA Online will need to set up a user account then click “I Have an Enrollment Key” at the bottom. Returning users can just sign in).

2016 Recognition Luncheon Photos

On Thursday, August 11, 2016, the Local Government Academy’s annual Recognition Luncheon was held at the Engineer’s Society of Western Pennsylvania. Recognized among the audience of over 100 were LGA’s donors, instructors, municipal interns, the Allegheny League of Municipalities’ Banner Communities, and communities that have earned certification through the Pennsylvania Sustainable Community Certification.

Click on any image to enlarge.