The seven-member Woodstock City Council will need at least four yes votes to pass most measures regardless of how many members are present to vote.

The new rule, approved unanimously by the City Council at its Jan. 17 meeting, sets a higher threshold for approving ordinances than otherwise would be allowed under its new status as a home-rule municipality.

Under state law, the City Council could have allowed a simple majority of members present — for example, three out of five — to vote in favor of an ordinance for it to pass. The new rule requires more than half of the elected council (four out of seven) to vote to approve an ordinance except in instances where state statute specifies different voting requirements. Abstentions will not count as affirmative votes.

“I think we’re putting the most stringent of requirements on us, as opposed to some other municipalities that might have done otherwise,” Mayor Brian Sager said.

City Manager Roscoe Stelford said officials also wanted to clarify the code following the city’s exemption from most state voting statutes. The city code’s definition of a quorum specifies “no ordinance shall be passed except upon the favorable vote of the majority of the elected members, as provided by [state] statute.” The code also says, to the extent it doesn’t conflict with other laws or ordinances, that meetings must follow the latest published edition of “Robert’s Rules of Order Revised.” Robert’s Rules of Order calls for a simple majority to pass items of business. 

“The two are in conflict, so we wanted to clarify the city will still be following the higher standard as provided for within state statutes,” Stelford wrote in an email.

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