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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about codifying your ordinances?  Maybe we can help shed some light on the topic.  Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we hear about codification...

What is ordinance codification?

What makes up a code of ordinances?

How long does the codification process take?

How much does codification cost?

Our ordinances are organized in a binder.  Isn't that good enough?

We have an old code printed on 6" x 9" paper.  Why this size?

We codified several years ago; should we codify again or supplement?

How will the code look when it's finished?

Can we get our code on CD-ROM or the Internet?

What sets American Legal Publishing apart from other codifiers?


What is ordinance codification?

Ordinance codification is the process of collecting, organizing and publishing the legislation for your municipality or county.  Codification was historically a printing press industry, simply “printing old words on new pages.”   This approach has changed drastically. Now, an effective codifier also provides assistance with content, performing routine cite checks, and eliminating conflicts within the code as well as with state or federal law.  The goal of codification is to provide local governments with a body of current, enforceable laws, and to make the code easy to use and reference.

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What makes up a code of ordinances?

Every element of a code of ordinances should assist the user – whether the City Attorney, a Councilmember, or a citizen – to locate what they are searching for. A typical code consists of the following:

  • Cover Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Charter, if any
  • Body of code
  • Table of Special Ordinances (listing of zoning map changes, easements, annexations, etc.)
  • Parallel reference tables (lists references to old code sections, state law, ordinances and resolutions)
  • Index

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How long does the codification process take?

In general, it takes six months to one year to complete the codification process. However, that time varies depending on several factors, including the number and size of ordinances, how long it takes a local government to review the draft, whether or not your current code is available in an electronic format, and what – if any – electronic publishing options are selected.

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How much does  codification cost?

The cost of codification varies depending on many factors, ranging from the number and size of ordinances, the number of ordinances adopted by reference, if supplementing (updating) is included, the amount of the previous code that exists in an electronic format, and what – if any – new electronic publishing options are selected.

We are always happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation estimate based upon these specifications.  We even offer a flexible billing option, where the cost of our service can be budgeted over two fiscal years.  We can work with you to schedule the project so that it meets your budgetary needs.  Please contact us today for more information.

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Our ordinances are organized in a binder.  Isn't that good enough?

Having your ordinances organized in a binder may be sufficient. Generally speaking, such a storage method can quickly become cumbersome. It can also be problematic as ordinances are difficult to locate and conflicts between ordinances may go undetected.  Depending upon the number of ordinances, the needs of your local government, and the usability of the current format, codification may be a better choice.

Codification ensures that repealed or obsolete ordinances are removed, internal (within code) and external (with state and federal law) conflicts are remedied, and that language is clear and grammatically correct. To facilitate use of the code, ordinances are formatted under user-friendly titles, chapters, subchapters and sections. The above features, among others, are what separate codification from a simple compilation.

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We have an old code printed on 6" x 9" paper.  Why this size?

The 6” x 9” size code is an outdated hold-over from the days before computers, and this sizing was attributable to nothing other than printing-industry specifications.  The 6”x 9” size is no longer the standard as it does not work well with modern office equipment such as scanners and photocopiers.  The modern industry standard is 8½”x11”, either single or dual column.

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We codified several years ago; should we codify again or supplement?

Whether or not you decide to codify again depends on how workable and current your code is.  If you have not supplemented (updated) your code with new ordinances on a regular basis, chances are that it is not current or complete.  As important as it is to begin with a complete and organized code, it is equally important to supplement it in an organized and consistent fashion. Forgetting to include even one ordinance in your code could be very detrimental to your local government, especially if the omission leads to litigation. American Legal offers a supplement service for keeping your code current in future years.

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How will the code look when it's finished?

We want your code to look the way you want it to look. That’s why you have many choices when it comes to how your code of ordinances will look. We can codify using your existing organization, numbering and style or you can choose any variation that works best for you. With American Legal, you even have your choice of typestyles, single or dual column format, and binder type and color.

We do have a standard style that works well for a large number of our clients. In general, we arrange ordinances according to logical subject matter. For example, we group all land use ordinances together in one title, business regulations together in one title, administrative ordinances in another title, and so on.

In addition to this subject matter formatting, our standard code style includes a Table of Special Ordinances, which is a special section used to list such ordinances as annexations, zoning map changes, special contracts/franchises to which the local government is a party, and so on. Your current code might not contain these important and useful historical referencess.

We also include Parallel Reference Tables, which are used for listing:

  • all ordinances and resolutions included in the code in chronological and/or numerical sequence
  • all sections of the prior code included in the new code
  • state law references included in the code 

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Can we get our code on CD-ROM or the Internet?

Absolutely. American Legal can also act as an information management consultant, providing information, software, and electronic products to make ordinances and other municipal documents easier to work with. We can convert your code of ordinances, meeting minutes, and any other government documents into easily searchable electronic formats (such as Folio Views® and NXT Solo®).

The electronic versions of your documents can be installed on your network, an intranet or on individual desktops. This allows you and your colleagues to search for key words or to easily print specific sections of text.  We can also place your code and other documents on the Internet so citizens, contractors, schools, and other interested parties can locate the information they need as well.

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What sets American Legal  Publishing apart from other codifiers?

American Legal Publishing has over 71 years of experience and thoroughly understands the needs of local government.  We also have the resources to provide excellent service and products.

We provide excellent value, superior products and friendly customer service.   Our exclusive editorial and legal report -- the most comprehensive in the industry -- is a respected feature of our codification process, and we have 13 attorneys on staff, including the President of the company.

American Legal began as the codification division of Anderson Publishing Company of Cincinnati in 1934, and became a separate corporation in 1979.   We now serve over 1,800 local government clients from coast to coast, ranging in size from small villages to cities like Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, and San Jose.  We also serve as codification or information management consultants to 15 state municipal leagues and have partnerships with the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA) and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC).

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