County Government

In Ohio, a county is the major local geographic subdivision of the state. It operates under structure outlined by general law, and serves as an agency for the administration of state law. A county does not possess the power to pass ordinance.

As is true for cities, counties may charter themselves. Only Summit County in Ohio has voted for a charter, which provides for a single elected executive and a county council.

An attempt at charter government was decisively defeated in Trumbull County in the early 1970's, and we and 86 other Ohio counties now operate under state statutes which specify government by three Commissioners and numerous elected officials, all minutely regulated.

The County Commissioners have responsibility for both policy making and policy execution in the county. The County Commissioners share the executive function of the county with eight other elected independent county officers: Auditor, Clerk of Courts, Coroner, Engineer, Prosecuting Attorney, Recorder, Sheriff, and Treasurer. These officials are technically the equals of the Commissioners, whose only control over them is through the county budget; however, annual reports and statements by the Prosecuting Attorney, Clerk of Courts, Sheriff, and Treasurer must be examined by the Commissioners.

If a vacancy occurs in any of the offices of the eleven elected officials, the County Central Committee of the political party with which the official was affiliated appoints a person to hold the office until the successor is elected. In the interim, the Commissioners may appoint an acting officer. If the official was elected as an independent candidate, the Commissioners make the appointment; if the vacancy is in the office of a County Commissioner who was an independent candidate, the Prosecuting Attorney and the remaining Commissioners appoint a person to fill the office of Commissioner. Article II authorizes and the statutes provide for removal of elected officials for misconduct in office by a judicial proceeding.