What is a City Council Resolution? (Overview, Definition, and Examples)

  • By: Tara Astbury
  • January 2, 2024
woman sitting at laptop while raising one hand and writing in a notebook with other

Many people wonder: What does a city council member do? 

Among other duties, city officials are responsible for making policies and establishing regulations to improve the communities they serve. 

City ordinances establish permanent local regulations, but they’re not always suitable for every situation. City council resolutions reflect the opinions or decisions adopted by a city council, often regarding temporary situations. 

Like other formal decisions adopted by legislative bodies, the creation of resolutions must follow specific city council meeting procedures. To reduce the complexity of conducting city meetings, city officials often use government meeting software.

What is a City Council Resolution?

A city council resolution is an official statement or decision made by a city council to express its position, establish a policy, or address a specific issue within the jurisdiction of the city.  The council passes resolutions to make decisions on matters that may not require a full ordinance, but are significant enough to warrant an official stance.

Resolutions are used in a variety of formal proceedings. They typically can be adopted by a majority of a governing agency and often can go into effect immediately. City council resolutions may be used for internal purposes, such as adopting personnel policies or deciding to surplus public property. 

City Council Resolution Structure

While city resolutions don’t carry the same power as ordinances, they serve as formal proceedings that must establish clear reasoning and follow-up actions. As such, the roles of the city administrator and city clerk often involve writing and filing city council resolutions. The roles of the city administrator vs the city manager are also notable, as the latter will be more involved in implementing actions related to the resolution. City council officials must coordinate their efforts to develop a resolution that follows this formal structure. 


The title of a resolution should clearly state the topic at hand and its intent. The content should be short and specific, and typed in bold font and all caps. 


The preamble is an introduction that clarifies the problem and the objectives the city council expects to accomplish. All preamble clauses begin with the word “Whereas” and immediately refer to the related legislation (with the proper title and particular sections) when relevant. This section may also include findings or statistics to support the council’s position. 

While a preamble can be quite lengthy, it’s often difficult or impossible to cover all relevant information. Additional documents can be attached to share information about historical actions and examples surrounding the issue at hand. 

Resolved Clauses

Resolved clauses are statements to be acted upon. The resolve statement can be used to recommend changes in policy or suggest actions to solve the problem outlined in the preamble. Resolved clauses must contain actionable request(s) and make sense when read alone. Without using supporting documentation, resolve clauses should clearly outline the solution and how it will be carried out. For example, if a program is proposed, information about how it will be funded and overseen should be included. 

Operative Clauses

Operative clauses specify the reason for constructing the resolution. It should mention the government agency to which the resolution is directed, identify the problem, and note the urgency level. If multiple operative clauses are included, they should be organized in a logical progression with each numbered clause containing a single idea. 

All operative clauses begin with the phrase “Therefore be it resolved…” The statement then goes on to explain the reason for drafting the resolution. 


Signatories include all parties that want to see the resolution debated before a legislative body. Some signatories may not agree with the content of the resolution but wish to propose amendments during debate.

Effective Date

The effective date declares the date the ordinance becomes effective. 

How eScribe Powers Effective City Councils

City councils are required to follow specific procedures to align with regulatory requirements for creating resolutions and local regulations. However, with modern technology, conducting council business doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right platform, city councils can streamline and automate tasks to reduce complexities and improve efficiency.

With eScribe, local governments can streamline council meeting management by including remote participants and enabling offline access for review. eScribe pricing plans fit the needs of municipalities, ranging from small towns to large cities, and scale with growth. 

Explore our platform overview to see how eScribe simplifies city council efforts.

  • Meeting Manager: Managing paper files can be costly and error-prone. eScribe’s fully digital platform allows teams to store all meeting-related items in one place and automatically capture meeting elements, like minutes, roll call, action items, speaker requests, and more.
  • Meeting Minutes: Recording the highlights of a meeting is essential to revisit important topics. Yet, the process can be distracting. The Minutes Builder enables you to effortlessly make notes, create tasks, track attendance, and make motions. As a result, participants can focus on the meeting. 
  • Reporting and Workflows: Staying on top of multiple tasks is challenging. With Reports & Workflows, you can better manage deadlines, track statuses, save time, and handle reports and approvals with ease. 
  • Collaboration Tools: Modern technology allows elected officials the freedom to work from anywhere. Use the participant portal tool to provide secure access for reviewing content, downloading materials, and more. The integrated action log makes post-meeting follow-up quick and easy.

The eScribe platform helps councils stay organized, run more effective meetings, and maintain regulatory compliance. 

Check out the City of Greensboro Case Study to learn more about how eScribe can streamline processes for local governments.