Modernising municipal management: A Guide to Efficient Town Halls

Hervé Kopyto
Updated on 03/07/2024 10 min reading
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  1. What does a town hall do?
  2. How do you manage a town hall effectively?
  3. What are the best software packages for town halls?
  4. How do you optimise the running of a town hall?
  5. FAQ

In a nutshell

This article explores the different facets of running a town hall, the software that can help improve efficiency, and suggestions for optimising the way a town hall operates. It aims to provide a clear understanding and insight into municipal management to help modernise and improve municipal operations.

What does a town hall do?

The town hall is the municipal administration run by the mayor and his team of deputies, who are elected by the citizens of the municipality. Here are some of their main tasks:

  • Management of local public services : The town council organises services such as waste collection, maintenance of green spaces, roads, sanitation, local public transport, security services such as the municipal police force, and fire services.
  • General administration : The Town Hall is responsible for civil status (registering births, marriages and deaths), managing electoral rolls, issuing certain administrative documents (identity cards, passports) and organising elections.
  • Town planning : The local council is involved in planning and controlling land use within the municipality. It issues building permits and is responsible for town and country planning.
  • Education : The Town Hall is responsible for maintaining nursery and primary schools, employing ATSEMs (Agent Territorial Spécialisé des Écoles Maternelles) and sometimes running the school canteens.
  • Social action : The town council can also play a role in supporting the elderly, the disabled and people in difficulty, through the CCAS (Centre Communal d'Action Sociale).
  • Culture and sport : The town council organises and subsidises cultural and sporting events, and manages facilities such as libraries, museums, gymnasiums and swimming pools.
  • Local economy : The town council has a role to play in the economic development of the municipality, for example by attracting businesses or supporting local commerce.

The Town Hall is funded by local taxes and state subsidies. The exact size and remit of the town hall may vary depending on the size of the municipality and its legal status.

How do you manage a town hall effectively?

In a local authority, the town council is responsible for maintaining several types of public building. Here are a few examples:

  • The Town Hall itself : The Town Hall building is often a historic and symbolic place in the town. Maintenance is therefore a priority.
  • The schools : The local council is generally responsible for the upkeep of nursery and primary schools. This can include the maintenance of buildings, playgrounds, canteens, etc.
  • Sports facilities : Sports grounds, gymnasiums, swimming pools and other municipal sports facilities must be maintained in good condition for the safety and well-being of citizens.
  • Libraries and museums : The Town Hall must ensure that these cultural sites are well maintained, both for the preservation of the collections they contain and for the comfort of visitors.
  • Community centres and village halls : These venues are often used for various community events and activities. They therefore require regular maintenance.
  • Public service facilities : Buildings housing services such as the municipal police, fire brigade, municipal technical services, etc.
  • Historical heritage : In some municipalities, the town council may be responsible for the maintenance of historic buildings, monuments or sites of interest.
  • Green spaces and parks : Although they are not strictly speaking "buildings", the upkeep of these areas is often the responsibility of the town council.

The Town Hall decides on maintenance and renovation priorities, based on the size of the building, its condition, its use and the financial resources available.

What are the best software packages for town halls?

A number of software packages are used in town halls to facilitate administrative management and day-to-day work. Here are some of the most commonly used:

Microsoft Office :

The Microsoft Office suite includes essential tools such as Word for writing documents, Excel for managing data and creating tables and graphs, PowerPoint for presentations, and Outlook for managing emails and calendars.

PlanningPME :

This is planning software that can be used to manage employee timetables, room or equipment reservations, task tracking, and so on. It can be particularly useful for coordinating activities in different municipal departments.

Financial management software :

Software such as Sage or Cegid can be used to manage your local authority's finances, including accounting, payroll, invoice management and so on.

Project management software :

Tools such as Microsoft Project or Trello can help you plan, monitor and manage the various projects undertaken by the town hall.

Civil status management software :

This specific software is used to manage civil status registers, track requests for administrative documents, etc.

Content management systems (CMS) :

Software such as WordPress can be used to manage the town hall's website, publish information for citizens, etc.

Cartography and urban planning software :

These tools can be used to manage city plans, building permits, town planning schemes and so on.

The exact choice of software will depend on the council's specific needs and the skills of its staff.

How do you optimise the running of a town hall?

Optimising the way a town hall operates can improve the efficiency of public services, enhance citizen satisfaction and make more judicious use of available resources. Here are some strategies for achieving this:

  1. Use of technology :
    Adopting the right software can automate certain administrative tasks, improve project management and planning, facilitate communication and reduce errors.
  2. Ongoing staff training :
    Investing in staff training can improve the quality of public service, boost employee motivation and keep the town hall up to date with the latest regulations and technologies.
  3. Improving internal communication :
    Effective communication between different council departments can improve coordination, reduce errors and duplication, and foster a more collaborative working culture.
  4. Improving communication with citizens :
    Establishing clear channels of communication with citizens (website, social networks, newsletters, etc.) can improve transparency, increase citizen satisfaction and enable the town council to better understand their needs.
  5. Setting up feedback processes :
    Establishing mechanisms for collecting and analysing feedback from citizens and employees can help the council to identify problems, improve its services and make informed decisions.
  6. Efficient resource management :
    Careful budget planning, regular analysis of expenditure and the search for additional sources of funding can help to optimise the use of council resources.
  7. Partnerships :
    Working with other bodies (other councils, government agencies, local businesses, non-governmental organisations, etc.) can help to share resources, improve services and achieve common goals.
  8. Use of data :
    Collecting and analysing data on various aspects of the council's operations can help to identify areas for improvement, measure the effectiveness of initiatives and make evidence-based decisions.
  9. These strategies must be adapted to the specific needs and resources of each town hall. It is also important to implement them gradually and to monitor their effectiveness over time.

FAQ

The challenges vary, but often include limited financial resources, maintaining the quality of public services, managing population growth, accommodating the varied needs of residents, and complying with government regulations.

Citizens can get involved by voting, attending public meetings, giving their views during consultations, complying with local rules and regulations, and getting involved in the local community.

The mayor is generally the head of the mayor's office, responsible for carrying out the council's decisions, representing the municipality and overseeing the municipal administration.

Ways of improving transparency include publishing council documents and decisions online, holding public meetings, inviting citizens to take part in decision-making processes, and putting in place clear processes for dealing with complaints and requests for information.