Board of County Commissioners


The territorial act of 1792 created the office of county commissioner, and appointed two commissioners with authority to compile tax lists, levy taxes, as well as draft plans for and supervise the construction of a courthouse, jail, pillory, whipping post and several stockades.  

The Ohio Constitution of 1802 made no provision for the office – it was not until February 13, 1804, that the board was created by the Ohio General Assembly.  This board was comprised of three members, elected to serve three year terms.  The Board of Commissioners operates by adopting resolutions, which require approval of at least two of the Commissioners.  Although Commissioners are considered the legislative authority of the county, they cannot make laws.  Early commissioners’ duties included keeping a record of their proceedings, assessing taxes, appointing a county treasurer, and supervising the construction of buildings.  Later, the commissioners were given the task of the construction and maintenance of local highways and ditches as authorized by the state general assembly.  

Beginning in 1816, with the establishment of county poorhouses, the commissioners began supervising and controlling public welfare work in the county.  They were authorized to appoint a board of directors and a superintendent to manage the poorhouse.  In 1850, the name was changed to county infirmary, and in 1919 the name was changed once again, to county home.  Today, the commissioners still maintain and supervise the county homes where they still exist.  In Union County the county home established in 1851 and later known as Union Manor was abolished in 1994.  Records pertaining to the operations of the county home can be found under the county home records section.  

Union County Courthouse (1838-1883)   

In 1866, the board became responsible for the care for neglected and dependent children as they were authorized to establish and operate children’s homes.  The Union County Children’s Home was established in 1884 and closed in 1967.  Administration of the Children’s Home passed from the jurisdiction of the County Commissioners to a Child Welfare Board in 1946.  Records pertaining to the operations of the Union County Children’s Home can be found under the children’s services board section.  In 1908, additional powers to administer blind relief and establish a county tuberculosis hospital were given to the commissioners by the legislature.  The board received authority to administer aid for the Aged in 1933, currently known as Senior Services in Union County, and two years later, began to provide non-institutional support for the county’s indigent.  

The animal control program came under the jurisdiction of the board in 1927 when it was empowered to appoint a county dog warden.  Since 1941, the commissioners have adopted, administered, and enforced regulations for the erection, construction, repair, alteration, and maintenance of dwellings in unincorporated areas of the county.  This program is done in conjunction with the County Engineer’s Department.  The commissioners decide on annexations and the opening or abandonment of roads, streets or alleys.  

The Ohio General Assembly delegated to the county commissioners the power to administer zoning laws for the unincorporated areas of the county in 1947.  In Union County zoning authority has been voted to the jurisdiction of the individual townships, who establish rural zoning commissions and a boards of zoning appeals.  In 1987, the general assembly organized the state into Solid Waste Districts governed by a board of directors comprised of each participating county’s Board of County Commissioners.  The districts have the responsibility to generate a plan for the disposal of all solid wastes within the borders of the district with the authority to create landfills, incinerators and recycling facilities.  Union County is a part of the North Central Ohio Solid Waste Management District.  

Commissioners are the major appointing authority for boards and commissions that, by statute, operate part of the county programs.  These include the Hospital Board of Trustees, the Airport Authority Board, the Board of Mental Health and Recovery and the Board of Developmental Disabilities.  Also, all property of the county is held in the name of the Board of County Commissioners.  The Commissioners buy all major items by receiving bids from would-be suppliers.  

Today the commissioners are elected to four year terms.  The commissioners approve the annual county budget and the levying of taxes for county purposes.  This is done in cooperation with the County Budget Commission.  A temporary budget must be finalized by January 1, while the permanent budget must be adopted by April 1.  The board supervises the county’s financial management.  


Blind Relief Records (1904-1944)
Commissioners' Journal (1820-2023)
Commissioners' Journal - County Home   (1913-1987)
Ditch Records (1875-1958)
Free Turnpike Records (1874-1915)
Index to Commissioners' Journal  (1820-2015)
Road Improvement Records (1914-1917)