Powers & Duties
All Ohio counties (with the exception of Summit County) have three county commissioners: two are elected at the time of the presidential election and one is elected at the time of the gubernatorial election; all three serve a four-year term. The county commissioner elected at the gubernatorial election takes office on January 1, and the two elected at the presidential election take office on January 2 and 3. Candidates for these two commissioner positions must file for either the January 2 or 3 position.
The functions of county government depend greatly on the actions and authority of Ohio’s Boards of County Commissioners. While the Commissioners have no direct authority over other elected officials – the auditor, clerk of courts, coroner, engineer, judges, prosecuting attorney, recorder, sheriff, and treasurer – the Commissioners are required to determine funding levels for every office. Commissioners must understand the responsibilities of each of these county office holders. This allows them to allocate federal and state funds, and local tax revenue to these other offices using careful budget oversight.
Boards of County Commissioners were created by the state legislature and may only perform functions authorized by state law as defined in the Ohio Revised Code. Today as we look at modern-day County Government it reveals the responsibility of County Commissioners to make government work locally, and has grown larger than ever imagined. County Commissioners are key players in bringing new businesses and industries to our communities. Tax incentives and infrastructure are used as planning tools.
The Board of County Commissioners is the general administrative body for County government. It is the County government’s taxing, budgeting, appropriating and purchasing authority and holds title to County property. The Board is also responsible for hearing and ruling on annexations, authority for providing water and sewer services, and making improvements and providing for solid waste disposal.
Individual Commissioners have no power to act independently. All formal and official actions must be taken by the Board of County Commissioners acting as a body by majority or unanimous vote.
The Commissioners appoint department heads for those offices reporting directly to them, and also appoint members to a variety of boards and commissions. Commissioners serve directly on some boards such as the Board of Revision, County Records Commission, and the Planning Commission.
Perhaps the most important attribute of the commissioners is their ability to lead, to listen to the needs of the citizens and other elected officials, to compromise, and to develop a consensus on priority issues to improve the county. Harrison County’s Commissioners are accessible full time to assist citizens in their dealings with County Government.