Historically, counties were established as a convenient local administrative branch of the state government. Just as any other agency of state government, these general law counties had only those powers which were expressly granted to them, or which were necessarily implied from an express grant. Only cities and villages were recognized to have “home rule” powers, that is, a general power to provide for the health, safety and welfare of their constituents.

In 1933, the Ohio Constitution was amended to give counties the option to adopt an alternative form of government or a charter, which states in pertinent part:

Article 10 § 10.03 County charters; approval by voters

The people of any county may frame and adopt or amend a charter as provided in this article but the right of the initiative and referendum is reserved to the people of each county on all matters which such county may now or hereafter be authorized to control by legislative action. Every such charter shall provide the form of government of the county and shall determine which of its officers shall be elected and the manner of their election. It shall provide for the exercise of all powers vested in, and the performance of all duties imposed upon counties and county officers by law. Any such charter may provide for the concurrent or exclusive exercise by the county, in all or in part of its area, of all or of any designated powers vested by the constitution or laws of Ohio in municipalities; it may provide for the organization of the county as a municipal corporation; and in any such case it may provide for the succession by the county to the rights, properties, and obligations of municipalities and townships therein incident to the municipal power so vested in the county, and for the division of the county into districts for purposes of administration or of taxation or of both. Any charter or amendment which alters the form and offices of county government or which provides for the exercise by the county of power vested in municipalities by the constitution or laws of Ohio, or both, shall become effective if approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon. In case of conflict between the exercise of powers granted by such charter and the exercise of powers by municipalities or townships, granted by the constitution or general law, whether or not such powers are being exercised at the time of the adoption of the charter, the exercise of power by the municipality or township shall prevail. A charter or amendment providing for the exclusive exercise of municipal powers by the county or providing for the succession by the county to any property or obligation of any municipality or township without the consent of the legislative authority of such municipality or township shall become effective only when it shall have been approved by a majority of those voting thereon (1) in the county, (2) in the largest municipality, (3) in the county outside of such municipality, and (4) in counties having a population, based upon the latest preceding federal decennial census of 500,000 or less, in each of a majority of the combined total of municipalities and townships in the county (not included within any township any part of its area lying within a municipality). (As amended November 5, 1957.)

In November 2009, the electors of Cuyahoga County, desiring to reform County Government to significantly improve the County’s economic competitiveness, voted to establish a new charter form of government under Section 10.03 of the Ohio Constitution. With the new charter form of government, the taxpayers of Cuyahoga County would have:

  • Focused, effective and accountable leadership;
  • Job creation and economic growth as a fundamental government purpose, thereby helping the County do a better job of creating and retaining jobs and ensuring necessary and essential health and human services;
  • Collaborative leadership with Cleveland, suburbs and others within the public and private sectors;
  • Improved focus on equity for all our communities and citizens;
  • Long-term regional and global competitiveness; and
  • Significant taxpayer savings by streamlining and eliminating unnecessary elected offices.

The new Charter went into effect on January 1, 2010. The Cuyahoga County Code is a compilation of County ordinances passed by the Cuyahoga County Council. The ordinances have been codified, chaptered and indexed, and will be updated as new ordinances are established or amended.

In Ordinance No. O2013-0001, County Council officially authorized the Clerk of Council to publish the County Code, as approved by the Director of Law, as the law of the County of Cuyahoga, Ohio.

(Ordinance No. O2013-0001, Enacted 2/26/2013, Effective 2/27/2013)