Regulatory Code

Chapter 5: Animal Control

Chapter 8: Cemeteries

Chapter 21-2: Storm Water

Chapter 22-6: Parking Enforcement

Chapter 27: Property Maintenance


One of the cornerstones of an effective ordinance enforcement program is the adoption and maintenance of understandable and legally enforceable ordinances. A city that constructs the best possible code enforcement process will be left virtually helpless if the underlying ordinances prove to be unenforceable.

Ordinances are city laws that are analogous to the statutes that make up state law. When a code enforcement officer seeks to enforce an ordinance by issuing a notice of violation or a citation, the officer should have confidence that the ordinance is valid and clearly says what it is intended to mean. All city personnel involved in the ordinance enforcement effort, including elected officials, code board members, code enforcement officers, and support staff, should be well-versed about the nature of city ordinances, ordinance drafting techniques, the process and requirements for adopting, amending, and repealing ordinances, and how ordinances are codified, or otherwise maintained.

Definition and Nature of Ordinances

KRS 83A.010(11) defines an "ordinance" as "an official action of a city legislative body, which is a regulation of a general and permanent nature and enforceable as a local law or is an appropriation of money." This statutory definition is a codification of the common law which holds that validly enacted ordinances have the character and effect of statutes within a city’s boundaries and are enforceable under the authority of the state.

Once an ordinance has been legally adopted, it has, by the express terms of KRS 83A.010(11), the force of law within the boundaries of the city. The violation of an ordinance, by a person subject to its terms, may result in the imposition of criminal or civil penalties, or both, that are ultimately enforceable through the state judicial system. Since an ordinance is intended to be used to prescribe rules of conduct that are generally permanent (until amended or repealed) and binding on all persons within the city who are subject to its terms, the requirements for the enactment of an ordinance are formal and detailed. These requirements are designed to ensure that an ordinance is enacted within the context of a deliberative process that affords notice to the public and an opportunity for public input.

It is important that city officials understand the differences between ordinances and other types of written instruments frequently used to convey official decisions, specifically, executive orders, municipal orders and resolution. Executive orders, municipal orders and resolutions differ significantly from ordinances in terms of their legally acceptable uses and the legal formalities required for their adoption. Information about the distinguishing characteristics of these types of instruments is provided later in this chapter.

Relationship of Ordinances to State Law

Municipal ordinances are inferior in status and subordinate to state law, which includes the Kentucky Constitution and state statutes. This fundamental principle is embodied in KRS 82.082 - the city home rule statute - which provides that a city may exercise any power or perform any function that is "not in conflict with a constitutional provision or statute." KRS 82.082 provides further in subsection (2) that "[a] power or function is in conflict with a statute if it is expressly prohibited by a statute or there is a comprehensive scheme of legislation on the same general subject embodied in the Kentucky Revised Statutes."

When a municipal ordinance conflicts with a constitutional or statutory provision, it is considered to be "preempted" and may be declared void and unenforceable. The preemption doctrine does not, however, mean that a city is precluded from addressing a subject by ordinance simply because a state statute or constitutional provision exists on the same subject.

On this issue, the Kentucky Court of Appeals has stated: "As a general rule, home rule included, a city may pass ordinances that are in addition to, yet not inconsistent with, state statutes and constitutional provisions." City of Louisville v. Michael A. Woods, Inc., Ky. App., 883 S.W. 2d 881 (1993). In that same case, the court quoted the following passage from an earlier Kentucky Supreme Court opinion in Commonwealth v. Do, Inc., Ky., 674 S.W. 2d 519 (1984): Municipal regulation is not always precluded simply because the legislature has taken some action in regard to the same subject... The true test of concurrent authority is the absence of conflict. Here cooperative authority is extremely valuable and in the best interests of the public. The mere fact that the state has made certain regulations does not prohibit local government from establishing additional requirements so long as there is no conflict between them.

City legislative bodies must take care, however, to ensure that the city's ordinances are not in conflict with state constitutional and statutory provisions.

Requirements for the Adoption of Ordinances

KRS 83A.060 sets forth the minimum requirements for the enactment of an ordinance. These requirements must be strictly adhered to or the ordinance will be declared void, if challenged. See, e.g., Merritt v. City of Campbellsville, Ky. App., 678 S.W. 2d 788 (1984), in which the Kentucky Court of Appeals held than an improperly enacted ordinance is not voidable, it is void, and, therefore, unenforceable.

The legislative body is authorized to adopt additional requirements, but it may not substantially lessen or reduce the statutory requirements. In Helm v. Citizens To Protect The Prospect Area, Ky. App., 864 S.W. 2d 312, 314 (1993), the Kentucky Court of Appeals stated the following regarding the passage of ordinances, in general, and regarding specifically a "substantial compliance" rule that the city had adopted to govern the passage of its ordinances: While the substantial compliance rule has its place in administrative law, it has no place in the enactment of ordinances by local legislative bodies. A local legislative body to enact a valid ordinance must observe all legal requirements, including those that they impose upon themselves. . . . Since the Council failed to do so, the ordinance is void.

The following requirements must be fulfilled in order to legally enact an ordinance:

Writing Requirement. An ordinance may only be introduced for consideration by the legislative body if it is in written form. The written ordinance must:

Relate to only one subject.

  • Have a title which clearly states the subject matter of the ordinance.
  • Have an enacting clause which reads: "Be it ordained by the City of _______."

Introduction and First Reading. Only a member of the legislative body may introduce an ordinance. Since KRS 83A.010(7) defines “legislative body member” to mean a “city councilman,” in mayor-council cities, the mayor is not a member of the legislative body; therefore, the mayor may not introduce an ordinance. If the mayor desires to have legislation considered, the mayor must find a member of the legislative body who is willing to act as the "sponsor" of the ordinance and have it introduced. In commission and manager plan cities, the mayor is a member of the legislative body and may introduce ordinances for consideration. An ordinance is "introduced" when it is placed on the agenda of a meeting and given its first reading.

The requirement of a reading (both first and second) may be satisfied by stating the title of an ordinance and reading a summary of it. A "summary" is defined by KRS 83A.010 (12) as follows:

a brief narrative prepared under the supervision of an attorney succinctly covering the main points of an ordinance in a way reasonably calculated to inform the public in a clear and understandable manner as to its meaning.

Although it is sometimes done, no ordinance has to be read in full in order to satisfy the statutory reading requirement; however, a summary which meets the requirements of KRS 83A.0l0(12) must be read to satisfy the reading requirements.

Note: In an unpublished opinion, the Kentucky Court of Appeals decided that the first reading of an ordinance by title only was not sufficient to comply with the requirements of KRS 83A.060(4). Despite arguments from the city that it substantially complied with the statutory requirement by reading the title, discussing the ordinance, and making copies of it available to the public, the court declared the ordinance void. This decision, although it is unpublished and, therefore, cannot be cited as precedent, is nevertheless instructive. It shows that the Kentucky courts apply a strict compliance standard when it comes to the requirements for the passage of ordinances. The unpublished case is styled City of Shepherdsville v. Laun, and can be found at 42 K.L.S. 5, p.16 (decided 5- 5-95)(cert. denied, 11-15-95).

It is also a common practice for city legislative bodies to vote on an ordinance after its first reading. While this practice may be useful to determine the degree of support for the proposed ordinance prior to the final vote, it is not legally necessary. See OAG 83-404.

Second Reading. With one exception, every ordinance must be given two readings. The readings must occur on separate days. There is no specified period of time that must elapse between readings, except that they must occur on separate calendar days.

Therefore, an ordinance may be read at a regular meeting on one day and given its second reading at a special meeting called the next day. Emergency. The requirement of a second reading may be waived if an emergency is declared. In such cases, the ordinance may be voted on and enacted after the first reading. An emergency may be declared if two-thirds (2/3) of the total membership on the legislative body vote to declare the emergency. The nature of the emergency must be stated in the written copy of the ordinance. The general nature of the emergency may be set forth in one (1) or more “whereas clauses,” or may be contained in the body of the ordinance. The body of the ordinance must contain a section which actually declares the emergency to exist and should specify that the ordinance will become effective upon its passage. A declaration of an emergency could read something like the following: “For the reasons set forth above, an emergency is hereby declared to exist and the provisions of this ordinance shall become effective immediately upon its adoption by a vote of two thirds (2/3) or more of the legislative body.”

Quorum and Voting. An ordinance may be voted on after it is read for the second time, or after the first reading, if an emergency is declared, as discussed in the preceding section. The vote on an ordinance must be by roll call and a record of the vote of each individual legislative body member must be recorded in the minutes and maintained as a part of the permanent records of the city. For an ordinance to be legally enacted, it must receive the affirmative vote of a majority of the members voting on the ordinance; provided that a quorum is present. KRS 83A.060(6) states that "unless otherwise provided by statute, a majority of a legislative body shall constitute a quorum." For example, on a six-member city council, four (4) members must be present for a quorum to exist; on a five-member city commission, three (3) members must be present for a quorum to exist.

If a quorum is initially obtained, but, thereafter, a sufficient number of legislative body members leave the meeting so that a quorum no longer exists, no legal action can be taken. For example, when three (3) members of a seven-member city council conduct a meeting after four (4) members of the council have left the meeting, the meeting is invalid for lack of a quorum. See OAG 84-208.

It is possible for an ordinance to be enacted, even though a majority of the members constituting a quorum do not actually vote to enact the ordinance. If a quorum is present, and if a proposition is passed by a majority of the votes actually cast, then all abstaining votes are counted with the majority. See OAG 87-38. For example, when seven (7) members of an eight-member board are present and three (3) vote affirmatively on a proposed ordinance and four (4) abstain, the ordinance is enacted by a unanimous vote of those present and constituting a quorum. See OAG 84-299.

Mayoral Approval of Ordinances. In mayor-council and mayor-alderman cities, once an ordinance has been enacted by the legislative body, it must be presented to the mayor for approval and signature. In commission and manager plan cities, the mayor must sign ordinances, but it is a ministerial act, since the mayor has no authority to veto an ordinance.

In mayor-council and mayor-alderman cities, the mayor has three options:

  • The mayor may approve the ordinance by signing it and returning it to the legislative body within ten (10) days of receiving it.
  • The mayor may veto the ordinance by returning it to the legislative body unsigned with a statement of the reasons for the veto within ten (10) days of receiving it.
  • The mayor may do nothing. If the mayor does not act within ten (10) days, the ordinance is automatically approved.

If an ordinance is vetoed, the legislative body may override the veto if one (1) more than a simple majority of the entire membership of the legislative body votes to override.

Publication Requirement. KRS 83A.060(9) specifies that, except in cities of the first class, no ordinance is effective until it is published in accordance with KRS Chapter 424, unless an emergency has been declared. Ordinances may be published in full or in summary, as designated by the legislative body. If the legislative body elects to publish an ordinance in summary, the summary must be prepared and certified by an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth. The summary publication must include the following:

The title of the ordinance. A brief narrative setting forth the main points of the ordinance in a way reasonably calculated to inform the public in a clear and understandable manner of the meaning of the ordinance.

The full text of each section of the ordinance that imposes fines, penalties, forfeitures, taxes, or fees.

Ordinances that include descriptions of real property may include a sketch, drawing, or map, including common landmarks, such as streets or roads in lieu of metes and bounds descriptions.

KRS 424.130(1)(a) requires (non-emergency) ordinances to be published no later than thirty (30) days from the date of enactment. Under KRS 424.150, the city clerk is the official responsible for publishing the duly enacted ordinances of a city. Ordinances must be published in a newspaper that meets the requirements set forth in KRS 424.120.

Alternative Publication. Under KRS 424.190(2), any city may substitute publication by first class mail when the cost of newspaper publication exceeds the cost of postage, supplies, and reproduction for first class mail delivery. If a city utilizes this alternative method of publication, it must send a copy of the material to be published by first class mail to each residence within the city. The city must also send three (3) copies of its audit report or one (1) copy of its financial statement to the Kentucky Department of Local Government.

Publication of Emergency Ordinances. If an emergency has been declared, the emergency ordinance becomes effective immediately upon passage; however, it must be published within ten (10) days of enactment. Otherwise, the requirements for publication are the same as for non-emergency ordinances.

Indexing, Recording, and Revision Requirements

Indexing and Recording. KRS 83A.060(8) requires that at the end of each month all ordinances which have been adopted must be indexed and recorded as follows:

City budget ordinances and ordinances which make appropriations or levy taxes must be maintained and indexed by fiscal year.

All other ordinances must be kept in a minute book, in the order adopted, and either indexed in a composite index or codified in a code of ordinances.

No ordinance must be copied in full in the minutes in order to be valid. It is sufficient if a summary is made of the passage of the ordinance. See Pure Milk Producers and Distributors Assn. v. Morton, Ky., 225 S.W. 2d 216 (1939).

Revision of Ordinances. KRS 83A.060(11) requires that at least every five (5) years, the ordinances in the composite index or code of ordinances must be examined and revised to eliminate redundant, obsolete, inconsistent, and invalid provisions. While this is the minimum statutory requirement, it is advisable for a city to undertake this review each year, or at the very least, every two (2) years following a Kentucky General Assembly session.

Codification of Ordinances

KRS 83A.060(5) allows cities to adopt “codifications of entire bodies of local legislation.” Furthermore, KRS 83A.060(8)(b) requires city ordinances (other than budget ordinances and tax levies) to be “indexed in a composite index or maintained in a code of ordinances.” By our estimate, at least half of Kentucky’s approximately 428 cities have codified their ordinances into a “code of ordinances.”

A code of ordinances is nothing more than a systematic arrangement of ordinances currently in force within the jurisdiction that is readily available for use and consultation. In a code, ordinances have been collected, revised, and published in a logical topical relationship with a correlated numbering system. The process of collecting, revising and publishing city ordinances in book (code) form is called codification.

Once a code of ordinances has been constructed, KRS 83A.060(5) allows a city to adopt the code by enacting a single ordinance that “identifies the subject matter by title, source, and date and incorporates the adopted provisions by reference without setting them out in full” in the adopting ordinance.

After a code of ordinances has been adopted, future ordinances that contain code material must be drafted so that they relate to the existing structure and content of the code. Specifically, these ordinances must be worded to do one or more of three things:

  • Repeal chapters, sections, or subsections of the code.
  • Amend existing code material by deleting, changing, or adding certain wording.
  • Add new chapters, sections, or subsections to the code.

Amendment of Ordinances

An existing ordinance may be amended only by a subsequent ordinance which has been adopted with the same formalities as the original ordinance. An ordinance may not be amended by motion and vote, resolution or order.

An amending ordinance must set out the text of the ordinance to be amended. If only a section of an existing ordinance is to be amended, that section must be set out in full. It is not permissible to amend an ordinance by reference to its title only. To amend an ordinance, all new language being added must be underlined, and all language being deleted must have a single broken line drawn through it and is usually encompassed by brackets. See KRS 83A.060(3). For example, to change the penalty provision in a city traffic ordinance to raise the minimum penalty from five dollars to twenty dollars, the amending ordinance would set forth the provision to be amended as follows:

Whoever violates any provision of this traffic code where no other penalty is specifically provided shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than twenty dollars ($20) [five ($5)] nor more than five hundred dollars ($500).

If a city has adopted a code of ordinances, the city’s code may be directly amended by ordinance. In such case, the amendments should be drafted to conform to the title, chapter, section, and subsection numbering system used in the code of ordinances.

Repealing an Ordinance

An existing ordinance or a section thereof may be repealed by a subsequent ordinance without setting forth the language of the ordinance or section to be repealed in the repealing ordinance. It is, however, necessary that the ordinance or section to be repealed be clearly identified. Ordinances to be repealed should be identified by number, date of passage, and title or subject matter. If an ordinance to be repealed has been amended, it is good practice to specifically repeal all amendments. Although not legally required, since amendments are repealed by implication when the original ordinance is repealed, the specific repeal of amendments will help in the tracking of legislative history and avoid confusion.

An existing ordinance should never be repealed by a new ordinance that “amends” the existing ordinance “in its entirety.” In this case, the new ordinance is merely an amendment, and any provision of the old ordinance that is not in conflict with the new ordinance will remain in effect. If the intent is to eliminate an old ordinance entirely, then it should be repealed. Or, if the ordinance is repealing a section within a code of ordinances, the repealing ordinance could read as follows: “Code section 10.10, prescribing fees for water service, is repealed.”

Likewise, ordinances should never be repealed by phrases such as “all ordinances in conflict are hereby repealed.” If this type of phrase is used, some provisions of old ordinances intended for repeal may not be in conflict with the new ordinance and may not be effectively repealed. Every effort should be made to identify the ordinances, or sections of ordinances, to be repealed and they should be specifically repealed.

If the legislative body desires to repeal a section of an existing ordinance, the repealing ordinance should contain language similar to the following: "Section ___ of Ordinance No. ___ , enacted on ________ and relating to ________ , is hereby repealed in its entirety."

Incorporation By Reference

A city legislative body may enact an ordinance which adopts by reference the provisions of any "local, statewide or nationally recognized code and codifications of entire bodies of local legislation." See KRS 83A.060(5). When a body of legislation is adopted by reference, the text is not set out in the adopting ordinance. To be effective, an ordinance adopting material by reference must meet the following requirements:

  • The adopting ordinance must identify the subject matter by title, source, and date.
  • The adopting ordinance must state that the material is incorporated by reference.
  • A copy of the material being adopted by reference must accompany the adopting ordinance.
  • The adopted material must be made a part of the permanent records of the city.

For instance, a city legislative body may wish to adopt a national standard housing code to serve as the city’s "Existing Housing Code" or "Unsafe and Unfit Structures Code." The following is an example of language that could be included in an ordinance to accomplish this type of adoption by reference:

The document entitled "The BOCA National Existing Structures Code," Second Edition, 1987, as published by the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc., which is attached to this ordinance as Exhibit "A," is hereby adopted in its entirety, by reference, as if fully set forth in this ordinance, as the Existing Structures Code for the city. A copy of the BOCA National Existing Structures Code, Second Edition, 1987, shall be made a part of the permanent records of the city and shall be maintained on file in the office of the city clerk for
public inspection.

Whereas Clauses

"Whereas clauses” are useful to state the purpose or background of an ordinance. They should not, however, be made a part of the body of the ordinance that is enacted into law. If these types of clauses are used in an ordinance, they should be placed after the ordinance title and before the "enacting clause." On the other hand, if a legislative body wishes to incorporate a substantive statement of policy or legislative intent into an ordinance, a section setting forth the statement of policy or intent should be incorporated into the body of the ordinance, i.e., following the “enacting clause.” In that case, if the policy or intent later changes, the ordinance must be amended.

Savings and Severability Clauses

When an ordinance is enacted to replace an existing ordinance that contains a penalty clause, the new ordinance should have a provision which "saves" the effect of the old ordinance. A "savings clause" allows prosecutions for violations of the old ordinance to continue after the new ordinance takes effect, if the violations occurred while the old ordinance was still in effect.

A severability clause states the legislative body's intent that the provisions of an ordinance are to be severable, and that if a part of the ordinance is found to be invalid, that finding does not necessarily invalidate the entire ordinance. If a city has adopted a code of ordinances containing general savings and severability clauses, it is not necessary to repeat these provisions in each ordinance.

Effective Date

KRS 83A.060(9) provides that, except in cities of the first class and when an emergency has been declared, "no ordinance shall be effective until published." Absent a provision in an ordinance which specifically establishes the effective date, non-emergency ordinances become effective upon publication, and emergency ordinances become effective immediately upon passage. A city legislative body may specify a future effective date in an ordinance.

Drafting Ordinances

Numbering. Every enacted ordinance should be numbered to allow for proper recordkeeping, to facilitate codification, to facilitate the drafting of subsequent amending and repealing ordinances, and to allow for the tracking of legislative history. To avoid confusion, the same number should never be used twice. An amending ordinance should never be assigned the same number as the ordinance it is amending. Ideally, ordinances should be numbered consecutively beginning with the very first ordinance enacted by the city legislative body. This simple system has the advantage of indicating the total number of ordinances that have been enacted. A city that has never numbered its ordinances, or that has an inadequate numbering system, can easily implement a numbering system that uses the year and a number (e.g., Ordinance 1992-1, Ordinance 1992-2, etc.)

Ordinances should be assigned numbers only after they have been enacted; otherwise, there will be numbering gaps, which can be confusing. Proposed ordinances should be numbered using a different system. Language. In order to be understood and enforceable, ordinances must be precisely drafted using simple sentences and ordinary English. The following discussion of some common language problems encountered in ordinance drafting is reprinted (with some editorial changes) from a publication entitled "Manual for Ordinance Drafting and Maintenance" published by the Oregon League of Cities:

  • Legal Subject. "It" is not a proper legal subject. Instead of writing "It shall be unlawful to fail to obey a traffic control device," use "No person shall fail to obey a traffic control device" or at the very least use "It shall be unlawful for any person to fail to obey a traffic control device."
  • Verb Tense. Ordinances should be drafted in the present tense. The law acts now and continues to act until repealed. Using the present tense avoids the use of "shall" as part of the future tense. "Shall" should be reserved for mandatory provisions that prohibit or require action.
  • "May" v. “Shall." "May" is permissive and "shall" is mandatory. Too often, ordinance drafters use only "shall" in the belief that it sounds more legal. Before using "shall," decide if the action must be taken or if it is discretionary; use "shall" only if the action must be taken.
  • Duplication. Do not use redundant pairs of words that have the same or virtually the same meaning, such as "null and void" and "full and complete." Determine what is meant and say it in one word.
  • Date and Time. Ordinance language should be precise when specifying dates and times. For example, "will go into effect after June 30, 1984," is more succinct than "will go into effect on or after July 1, 1984," and "will go into effect after 11 p.m." is more succinct than "will go into effect on or after 11 p.m."
  • "Such" and "Said." These words are greatly overworked in legal drafting. Ordinances are littered with "said building," "said owner," "such application," and "such street." These phrases are used as a shorthand method to refer to, for example, "the building that was just mentioned in the preceding sentence." If an ordinance section is referring to a dangerous building, write "the building." The reader will know which building. If there is reference to more than one type of building, use identifying terms such as "the dangerous building" and "the non dangerous building." Although the word "such" is sometimes appropriate, in most instances "such" should be replaced with the word "the" or another appropriate word. "Said" should always be replaced with "the" or another appropriate word.

Municipal Orders

KRS 83A.010(8) defines a "municipal order" as "an official act of the legislative body of a municipality which is binding upon the officers and employees of the municipality and any governmental agency over which the municipality has jurisdiction." KRS 83A.060 (13) states the following concerning the use of municipal orders:

In lieu of an ordinance, a municipal order may be used for matters relating to the internal operation and function of the municipality and to appoint or remove, or approve the appointment or removal of, members of boards, commissions and other agencies over which the city has control.

Municipal orders are more limited in their application than ordinances and the requirements for their adoption are far less formal and detailed. A municipal order must never be used to take action when an ordinance is required. On the other hand, a city legislative body could take action by ordinance even though the action would also be valid if done by municipal order. It is not advisable, however, to adopt an ordinance, when the action can be accomplished legally by municipal order. Remember, an ordinance must be published and publication can often be costly; but there is no publication requirement for municipal orders.

Since a municipal order may only be used to establish internal rules, and since it is binding only on the officers and employees of the city and agencies under the city's control, the nature of the penalties for a violation of a municipal order differ from the penalties that apply when an ordinance is violated. When a municipal order is violated, criminal and/or civil penalties are not imposed by the court system. Instead, penalties are imposed by city authorities. Common penalties include: dismissal, suspension, reprimand, demotion and removal from office.

Any matter relating to the internal operation of city government over which the legislative body has control can be dealt with by municipal order, unless the statutes require the use of an ordinance. Some examples of common uses of municipal orders are the following:

  • To appoint board members and other officials when the legislative body has that authority.
  • To establish rules of parliamentary procedure to govern the conduct of legislative body meetings and hearings.
  • To establish a holiday for city personnel.
  • To disapprove administrative regulations promulgated by the mayor (mayor-council city) or to establish regulations governing the conduct of city officers and employees (commissioner and manager plan cities).
  • To require a city agency over which the legislative body has control to establish rules and regulations or to submit periodic reports to the legislative body.

Executive Orders

KRS 83A.010(7) defines an "executive order" to mean "an order issued by the executive authority of a municipality which is binding upon the officers and employees of the municipality and any governmental agency over which the municipality has jurisdiction." Executive orders are the equivalent of municipal orders, except that they are issued by the executive authority of the city, rather than the legislative authority. In commission and manager forms of city government, the city commission and board of commissioners, respectively, are vested with both the executive and legislative powers, therefore, they may use both executive and municipal orders. In mayor-council cities, there is a separation of executive and legislative authority between the mayor and council, the mayor utilizes executive orders, while the council utilizes municipal orders.

If an executive order is violated, the executive authority who issued the order may take appropriate disciplinary action. Pursuant to KRS 83A.130(7), the mayor in a mayor council city must use executive orders to delegate authority.

Common uses of executive orders include:

  • To promulgate regulations governing the operations of city government and the conduct of city officers and employees.
  • To appoint or remove members of boards, agencies and commissions.
  • To convey administrative decisions, e.g., to establish the daily work schedule for personnel; to assign office space; to establish hours of operation for city offices.


A resolution is a less formal mechanism for dealing with matters of a special or temporary character. While an ordinance involves a distinctly legislative act, a resolution is simply an expression of the opinion, will or policy of the legislative body on some matter of ministerial business which has come before the body.

Resolutions need not be in any particular form and there are no statutory requirements specifying the manner of adoption. Resolutions are normally brought before the legislative body by motion and are approved by voice vote. Resolutions have no binding effect on the city's citizens, or for that matter on the legislative body. Resolutions are commonly used to:

  • Honor some group or individual.
  • Take a formal position as a body on an issue, such as a resolution in support of the enactment of a particular law by Congress or the state legislature.
  • To authorize a study of an issue which will be basis for later legislative action.
  • To indicate the legislative body's intent to take some official action at a future time.
  • To approve a bid or contract.

Resolutions, in terms of their legal significance, are equivalent to a motion that has been made and approved. In fact, many times, an action accomplished by written resolution could be done just as well by a motion and vote that is recorded in the minutes of the legislative body's meeting. A written resolution does, however, provide a more formal record of an expression of the legislative body's opinion which is often useful if it is to be conveyed to outside parties.

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