Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, the city of Missoula is bringing back the popular Local Government Academy, for an opportunity to learn how the city and other elected officials make decisions, develop a budget, observe law enforcement and fire departments, and more.

Interested in how the City of Missoula Operates?

KGVO News spoke to Missoula City Councilor Gwen Jones on Tuesday for details on the upcoming academy that starts February 9.

“We tipped this up actually back in 2019 and we did it in 2019 and 2020,” began Jones. “It is called the Local Government Academy, but we based it on the blueprint from the Citizens Law Enforcement Academy, which was police focused, but basically, this is the same blueprint. Its six weeks long. That’s two hours one evening a week. I think its Thursday evenings, and different departments come in from the city, make presentations and talk about what they do, explain it and answer questions.”

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In addition to learning about city services, participants will also get together and create a mock city budget.

“We also give an overall view of what the city is doing and how our local government is structured,” she said. “Then at the very end, on the sixth week, we do a budget session. We mock up a budget session and folks sit at different tables and they have to make some tough decisions about what they will and won't fund and how they're going to do it.”

Jones pointed to one Missoula resident who has put her training in the Local Government Academy by obtaining a seat on the city council.

“Currently, Sierra Farmer who was recently appointed to Ward Two,” she said. “She did the Local Government Academy back in 2019. I also think I know of at least one legislator who ran for office after he had done the Local Government Academy. So yeah, it feeds into that, which is great. But honestly, I think the focus is just more on education and awareness so that people understand what the city does.”

OK, You're Interested. Here's how to Apply

Jones provided details on how to register for the Local Government Academy.

“They need to apply,” she said. “The application is online at the city website, the Neighborhood Office website page where there is a link to an online application, but they can also do a hard copy application and drop that off at City Hall. The application period is open and it closes January 25.”

Questions can be directed to Kalina Pritchard, Neighborhoods Specialist here. Apply for the academy here.

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