If the city votes yes, an elected leader will be in place by May
A "confusing" 41-word question will not be changed before a referendum over whether Stoke-on-Trent should have an elected mayor is held.
The Plain English Campaign has said the question is unclear and people could be confused over what they were voting for.
The government had said the wording was engraved in law but was hoping to change it.
But the council said it could not be done before 23 October.
The city was told earlier this year by a government commission that it needed to change its existing system which sees the elected mayor and chief executive make all decisions.
The council was offered the option of having either an elected mayor with a cabinet or an elected council leader with a cabinet.
Councillors have already said they prefer the latter option.
The referendum question which will be put to voters is: "Are you in favour of the proposal for Stoke-on-Trent City Council to be run in a new way, which includes a councillor, who will be elected by the councillors of Stoke-on-Trent to lead the council and the community which it serves?"
If the city votes yes to the elected leader system, it will be installed from May 2009.