Ordinances are the most complex and formal of the four tools (motion, proclamation, resolution and ordinance) that are generally used by governing bodies for the purpose of transacting public business. An Ordinance is the "law of the land". An Ordinance may appropriate funds, authorize purchase and acceptance of property, authorize and direct the sale of property, impose fines, fees, taxes or even criminal penalties upon the citizens to which it applies.

Ordinances set forth rules of operation and are intended to be more permanent in nature. Some Ordinances (mostly those which carry a punitive element) are published in the City's General Code of Ordinances (to place citizens on Notice of regulated and prohibited conduct). The City also has a published Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Ordinance which serves similar purposes.

The process for the consideration and approval/adoption of an Ordinance by Common Council for the City of Winchester is outlined as follows:

  1. Agenda Item - An agenda item can be proposed by staff or a citizen (City boards may be involved in the formation of issues/concerns with an agenda item).
  2. Review - The item is reviewed by the City Manager who determines if it may be added to a future agenda.  If so, staff prepares an agenda packet. Prior to presentation to Council, every Ordinance must be reviewed and approved by the City Attorney.
  3. Work Session - The proposed Ordinance is presented to Council at a Work Session to familiarize Council with the item and allow Council to discuss the item and ask staff questions.
  4. First Reading - All Ordinances require two readings.  The first occurs at the next regular meeting of Council following the Work Session as long as Council decided to forward the item on for consideration at the previous Work Session.
  5. Public Hearing - All Ordinances require a public hearing. Notice is published in the Winchester Star at least 10 days prior to the public hearing.
  6. Second Reading & Adoption - Most Ordinances are adopted by majority vote of Council following a second reading with many requiring a "recorded (roll call) vote". The Ordinance becomes effective upon approval/adoption by Council.