Meeting Agenda Glossary

Ashland City Council meetings are meetings of our local governing body, and are open to the public to view. City Council meetings are where major decisions that impact you and your neighbors are made. You can even participate during select portions of the meeting to make your voice heard.

City Council meetings might seem very formal and maybe even intimidating, but the decisions made in these meetings affect your community and you’re encouraged to attend or watch at home. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of viewing City Council meetings.

Understanding Agendas

Agendas are posted on the online Agenda Portal at least 24 hours prior to a Common Council meeting.  Printed copies will be provided at the meeting. The electronic version links to documents and supporting materials that provide more information about the items on the agenda.

The agenda is the roadmap to the meeting and steers the Council as they vote and take action on the agenda items. They will strictly follow the agenda to stay on track and ensure all items are addressed during the meeting.

Agenda Glossary

  • Quorum: the minimum attendance necessary to make motions and vote without under-representing the group’s membership. For Ashland City Council quorum is when 5 of the 7 City Council Members are present.
  • Ordinance:  Local laws dealing with matters such as traffic, zoning, health and safety regulations, governmental organization, annexation, building and other construction codes, licenses, user fees, etc. 
  • Resolution: Temporary or special enactments that may grant special privileges, express opinions, or communicate decisions with the public or other agencies. You will often see a “resolution to confirm and adopt the report of…” on Common Council agendas. That means the Council will be voting to approve a submitted report or other communication.
  • Claim or Notice of Claim: in legal terms, a “claim” is something that one party owes another. Residents and businesses sometimes file claims against the City if they feel the City is responsible for damages to their vehicles or property. The City Attorney will report on these claims to the Administrative and Finance Committee.
  • Summons & Complaint: If complaints are filed against a business or property owner, s/he may be summoned – or asked by authority – to appear before the City Council’s subcommittees and confirm or deny the claims made against them.
  • Special Use Permit: A legal document which allows occupancy, use, rights, or privileges of land along with a set of certain conditions. The authorization is granted for a specific use of the land for a specific period of time.
  • License Applications: People or businesses applying for City licenses, such as retail alcohol licenses, operator’s (bartender’s) licenses, etc. will have their applications considered and approved or denied by the Council.
  • Committee of the Whole: All 7 members of the City Council make up the Committee of the Whole, a separate governing body of the City Council. 

The Order of a Common Council Meeting

  • Call to Order, Roll Call, Moment of Silence, and Pledge of Allegiance

    • The Mayor (or City Council president in the Mayor’s absence) will call the meeting to order. That means the meeting has started, and the audience should be seated and quiet. Next, the City Clerk will perform roll call, where each Council member will confirm his/her presence at the meeting. Then, the Council and audience will recite the Pledge of Allegiance together.
  • Approval of Agenda

    • The Council will vote to approve the agenda of the current meeting.
  • Approval of Minutes

    • The Council will vote to approve the minutes from their prior meeting to be placed on official record.
  • Citizen Participation Period

    • This is your chance to make your voice heard. A section of each Council meeting is set aside for citizen participation. If you want to share something with your elected officials, you will have three minutes to do so during Citizen Participation. Just like with Public Hearings, you will need to speak at the microphone and podium, and will to  state your name and address. Then, the three minutes are yours. The Council cannot respond to questions, comments, or remarks during this time. It is not a discussion period, but an opportunity for you to address the Council.
  • Mayor's Report and Appointments

    • The Mayor is granted time to report on items of interest to them or their constituents. They may recap a recent event, acknowledge awards or recognitions, or promote an initiative or event. At this time the Mayor will also appoint residents to City Boards and Committees with the City Council's approval.
  • Consent Agenda

    • A group of routine meeting discussion points in one single agenda item. This grouped item can be approved in one action, rather than through the filing of multiple motions. 
  • Old Business

    • Discussion and possible action taken on previously discussed items.
  • New Business

    • Discussion and possible action taken on new items being presented to the City Council. 
  • Public Hearings 

    • Public hearings are a common vehicle through which the City Council receives public input on a proposed action.  Public hearings typically provide the public an opportunity to offer their thoughts on a policy matter or a specific proposal that is before the Council for decision.  The role of the Council is to hear and consider those views when making a decision.
    • A staff member will typically share a short presentation and then ask for questions or comments from the Council. Once the Council’s questions have been addressed, the Mayor will ask the audience to approach the microphone to share any additional comments relevant to these specific topics. This is your opportunity to voice your approval or opposition of the proposal. Questions can only be answered by staff, not the Council members.
    • If you would like to make a statement, you will have to do so at the podium and microphone. Before or after your comments, please sign in on the provided sign-in sheet on the podium with your name and address. When you speak, state your name and address before you ask your question or make your comment.
  • Closed Session

    • Pursuant to WI State Statute 19.85 the City Council may meet to conduct business in a session closed to the public.  If the Council votes to enter into a closed session all meeting attendees will be asked to leave the meeting, including if they are attending virtually. 
  • Adjournment

    • The official ending of the meeting.