All Ohio counties organized under the general statutory law have three county commissioners, two being elected at the time of the presidential election and one at the time of the gubernatorial election. 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 (ORC 305.01).
The organizational meeting of the board of county commissioners occurs on the second Monday of January each year by the election of one of its members as president (ORC 305.05). The commission must hold 50 regular meetings per year (ORC 305.06) and as many special meetings as necessary to conduct their business (ORC 305.07).
County commissioners are the general administrative body for county government. As indicated above, they can perform those duties which are specifically authorized by the state legislature and no more. They are the county government taxing, budgeting, appropriating, and purchasing authority. They hold title to county property. 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.
Commissioners also have a myriad of other responsibilities including hearing and ruling on annexations, approving drainage improvements through the petition ditch process, establishing water and sewer districts and making improvements, and providing for solid waste disposal.
Commissioners also appoint department heads of offices for which they have responsibility and also appoint members to a variety of boards and commissions, and also serve on some boards such as the board of revision, the county records commission, and the planning commission.
Commissioners must work with all other county elected officials and with judges to assure that they are properly funded to perform their statutory duties.
But it is the non-statutory duties of county commissioners that make them different from other county elected officials. By necessity county commissioners must take a broad view of actions necessary to make the county a better place to live and work. Many commissioners are thus active in promoting public/private partnerships in human services, economic development, health, and infrastructure development. Other commissioners take an active role in improving the environment, promoting job training programs, and improving agriculture in their counties.
County commissioners must be astute and have good business sense. Perhaps the most important attribute of a county commissioner is the 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.