How to Pass a City Resolution (Step-by-Step)

  • By: Tara Astbury
  • January 2, 2024

Enacting change through a city resolution can be both inspiring and challenging. Whether you’re advocating for environmental sustainability, social justice, or improvements to local infrastructure, this step-by-step guide highlights the often-intricate path to successfully pass a city resolution.

We’ll also cover how government meeting software simplifies city council meeting procedures and enables local governments to work more effectively while enhancing public transparency.

What is a City Resolution?

A city resolution is an official expression of the opinions, intentions, or decisions of a city council or municipal governing body. A city resolution is typically brought forward during a council meeting, where city council members deliberate and vote on various matters affecting the community. Resolutions can cover a wide range of topics, including policy changes, declarations, commemorations, and statements of support or opposition.

Resolutions are similar to city ordinances, but resolutions are typically used for short-term and specific interests, while ordinances are passed for more permanent concerns. 

The most common types of resolutions include:

  • Legislate Resolutions: These resolutions address matters related to lawmaking, such as the adoption of a new ordinance or changes to existing ones.
  • Policy Resolution: These resolutions express the council’s policy decisions on specific issues, guiding future actions and decisions.
  • Commendatory Resolutions: These resolutions express appreciation or recognition for individuals, organizations, or events.
  • Proclamations: These are formal announcements that officially support or endorse certain initiatives, causes, or community events.

Resolution documents generally follow this structure:

  • Number Sequence: An abbreviation of the type of resolution, the calendar year, and the sequential number.
  • Title: The title should be short, specific, and in all caps.
  • Preambular Clauses: These provide background information on the resolution and why it should be passed. Each clause begins with the word “whereas” and expands on the reasoning for the resolution, who it affects, and other context certifying its need.
  • Operative Clauses: These clauses start with the phrase “be it resolved” and recommend a specific action upon the adoption of the resolution.

How to Pass a City Resolution

1. Proposal or Introduction

Taking a city resolution from an ideation to passage is a lot easier with the support of a team, so create a committee to work on the resolution. The first draft of the document should speak to the pressing nature of the issue and how the resolution benefits the community.

2. Committee Review

Every resolution submitted by a council member is then sent to a committee for review. The committee will determine if the resolution should go to a vote. Resolutions should be submitted with enough time for the council to review and distribute them to all members. 

If the resolution fails to pass, it may be rejected outright, referred to a policy committee for further study, or sent back with possible amendments.

3. City Council Agenda

If the city council includes a public hearing regarding the resolution, it’s important to attend the meeting with as many supporters of the resolution as possible. Also try to familiarize yourself with city administrators and the city clerk before making your presentation.  

Speaking times during meetings tend to be brief, so choose your points of emphasis wisely. Try to involve spokespeople with respectable credentials to back your cause. And regardless of the reaction to your resolution, remember to show respect to everyone at the meeting.

4. Discussion and Voting

The vote on a resolution can take place on the same day or at the next meeting. Have your supporters contact their council members if they represent a specific area. Find out when the vote will be brought up and show up at the meeting with resolution advocates.

5. Adoption and Implementation

Regardless of the voting outcome, publicly and privately thank sponsors and supporters of your resolution for their efforts. If the resolution doesn’t pass, take the opportunity to reassess your actions with the group and explore ways to propose the resolution in the future. If the resolution is passed, you can celebrate a successful campaign.

How eScribe Powers Effective City Councils

eScribe’s board management software offers key features and capabilities to significantly enhance the efficiency of local government operations. 

eScribe’s board management software comes equipped with:

  • Meeting Manager: eScribe provides customizable templates for meeting agendas, minutes, and action lists to help you conduct meetings efficiently and consistently. 
  • Meeting Minutes: Automatically capture meeting minutes and eliminate the need to take notes by hand.
  • Reporting and Workflows: The report manager helps users manage deadlines and track progress with detailed workflow history and electronic signatures. 
  • Collaboration Tools: Features such as the vote manager, video streaming, public comments, and the integrated action log provide greater transparency to meeting decisions and enable deeper cooperation among members.
  • Flexible Pricing: eScribe offers pricing plans to fit city governments of all sizes.

Check out this City of Greensboro case study for an example of how eScribe helps city councils manage their operations with increased transparency and accountability.