KRS 83A.010(11) defines an "ordinance" as "an official action of a city legislative body, which is a regulation of a general and permanent nature and enforceable as a local law or is an appropriation of money." This definition is a codification of the common law, which holds that valid ordinances have the character and effect of statutes within a city's boundaries and are enforceable by the city under the authority of the state.

Once an ordinance has been legally enacted, it has, by the express terms of KRS 83A.010(11), the force of law within the boundaries of the city. A violations of an ordinance may result in the impositions of criminal or civil penalties, or both, that are enforceable through the judicial system.

An ordinance is intended to be used to define the general rules of conduct which are binding within the city limits. The requirements for the enactment of an ordinance are very specific. These requirements are designed to ensure that an ordinance is enacted within the context of a deliberative process that affords notice to the public and an opportunity for public input.