Guide to Reading Our County Charter

Portage joins other Ohio counties in seeking a charter form of government.   Of Ohio’s 88 counties, only Cuyahoga and Summit counties are chartered, all others are statutory.  Statutory counties can only do what the State government allows. Our proposed charter secures our right to decide what we want in the community where we live. 

Preamble:   
Describes the purpose and legal authority for the proposed county charter
  • The Ohio Constitution declares that all power is inherent in the people and the people have the power to alter, reform or abolish their government.

  • The creation of this charter is a declaration that the people deem it necessary to alter the current statutory county government and create a chartered county government to guarantee equal protection and benefit to all people of the county.

 

Article I: 
Describes the Rights secured by the charter, based on the following authority
  • Human rights are inalienable - we are born with them, they are not granted by the government.

  • Government legitimacy is derived from the people.

  • with these Specific Rights secured:

    • The right to self-governance in their communities.

    • The right to free, untainted elections, initiatives referendum and recall.

    • The right to a healthy environment and sustainable community.

    • The right to govern corporate activities. Corporations are creations of the state by means of charter and license granted by the people through their government.

    • The right to own property and secure it against the taking by eminent domain for private profit.

    • Equal rights for all individuals regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age or mental/physical disability.

 

Article II:   
Describes the name, powers and boundaries of the county.
  • The "County of Portage" as its boundaries are now or hereafter may be, shall have all the powers, authorities, and responsibilities granted by this charter.

  • Laws which infringe on our inalienable rights do not apply under this charter.

  • The powers of the people will be carried out by their county commissioners, or through initiative, referendum, amending the charter approved by a majority vote of the county residents.

  • The charter does not take away the rights of chartered cities and towns; legal local rights of towns and townships prevail.  The purpose of the charter is to expand our human rights.

 

 

Article III:   
Describes the form of government and elections. It also defines the duties of county officers and the level of their compensation.   
  • The people hereby exercise their right and power to form a county charter pursuant to the Ohio Constitution Home Rule provision.  

  • Section 3.1 specifies that, within this charter, the people are choosing to retain the basic form of government we presently have, while securing our basic inalienable rights.    This section declares that the inclusion of the Community Bill of Rights, we the people are adopting a local constitution in the form of a charter which recognizes greater protections for residents and our environment than those secured by the state or federal constitution.

  • Powers and duties of county officers, boards, commissions, and authorities will exercise the same powers and perform the same duties as counties not adopting a charter unless the charter expressly assigns the power to another authority.

  • The two changes to the present form of government described in this Article are the requirement that the county auditor have a CPA and that the county  coroner be appointed by the county commissioners.

Article IV:
The Right of Local Community Self Government.Describes the inalienable and inherent right of local community self-government and notes on transition to a charter government.
  • Three key components;

    • The right to a system of government that secures the rights of every individual in the community.

    • The right to a system of government within the community that is controlled by its residents.

    • The right to alter or abolish the system of local government if it infringes on those rights.

  • The charter government of Portage County is not a product of the state and may not be preempted by the state.

  • As provided by the Ohio Constitution, initiative, referendum and recall is reserved to the people of the county.

  • County meetings, except for those where the county may be a party to litigation shall be made open to the public.

  • All pending matters shall continue except as modified in this charter.

  • All laws in effect shall remain so except where they may be inconsistent with this charter.

  • The charter must be reviewed with the commissioners holding a public meeting two years after the charter is in place.  The public meeting will discuss  how the charter may be improved or altered.

  • This review must be held every 5 years.

  • The commissioners must report to the public about the proposed changes in these public meetings.

Article V:
General Provisions regarding the transition from a statutory county to a charter (home rule) county.
  • Describes how existing county officers continue their duties and responsibilities

  • Allows for the appointment of a transitory advisory group of government officials and residents to assist in the transition.

  • Describes how pending matters, laws  and other activities should be handled to make a smooth transition.

  • Provides for a charter review process within 2 years of adoption and every 5 years thereafter.

Article VI:   
Severability.
  • If a court finds a problem with one section of the charter, that has no effect on the remainder of the charter.