Getting a resolution of support passed in your community

Many individuals, groups and organizations would like to obtain a resolution of support from their municipality supporting their project, program or effort. However, the process to achieve this goal can often seem like a daunting and overwhelming task.

You are an individual, group or organization working on a great project, program or effort in your community. The work you are doing is going to have a positive impact on your community but you need a resolution of support from your local municipality for that upcoming grant request you have worked so hard to prepare but time is running short! You are unfamiliar with the intricacies of local politics and their complex procedures. Where do you begin?

Many make the mistake of going straight to the next board or council meeting of elected officials, making a quick pitch with the assumptions that these officials will understand in five minutes the efforts you have made over the course of months or years, they will support in concept your work and they quickly pass a resolution that evening. In these cases, oftentimes, you may leave the meeting disappointed and bewildered, asking yourself how they could not understand the importance of your work.

Elected officials are answerable to the public. They rarely like “surprises” at meetings and want to come into a meeting prepared for the business before them. To be put on the spot during a public meeting is a difficult position for an official, even when what is brought before them seems like the best idea since sliced bread. Passing a resolution is serious business, and elected officials want to make informed decisions. Understanding the basics of the structure, process and procedures of your local municipality increases your chances of success, but a little proactive preparation can make all the difference.

Below are a few tips from Michigan State University Extension to assist you:

  • Contact the individual responsible for putting together the meeting agenda as early as possible (usually the clerk) and asked to be placed on it. The board or council usually meets monthly and officials may want an extra month to think about your request prior to acting on it.
  • Put together a concise packet of relevant information you would like the officials to see prior to the meeting. Include facts, figures, pictures, maps or other important information. Also include letters of support from others in the community if available. Be sure to submit the packet prior to the submission deadline for the meeting to ensure all materials get distributed beforehand.
  • Prepare a short presentation or talking points for your presentation to the board or council. If you plan on using technology, be sure to inquire as to the meeting room’s equipment requirements prior to the meeting.
  • Be on time and prepared for your meeting. Keep your presentation direct and concise. Be very clear and specific on what it is you are asking for. Be ready for potential opposition: not everyone may see things as you do. Be polite and respectful to the elected officials and others in the room.
  • Prepare a sample resolution for the board or council ahead of time, utilizing the same format your municipality normally uses, if possible (you may even be able to work with the clerk to develop the sample language). Provide an editable, digital copy if possible. Preparing sample resolution language ahead of time can be of great assistance to elected officials and it makes very clear the support you are requesting of them.

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