Williams County, like 86 of the 88 counties in Ohio, is presently a statutory county, whose government’s authority is totally under the power of the state.
Currently, only home rule municipalities’ residents have the right of initiative and referendum; township residents have no such right locally.
Once the county charter is voted in, our local government would have increased authority to respond to Williams County residents’ choices about our community and all Williams County residents would have equal rights of initiative and referendum.
The Preamble describes the Ohio Constitution as the basis of changing the county government into a home rule form of government. The charter is formed to secure the right of all county residents to equally participate in local self-government, with the power to protect fundamental rights free from preemption by other levels of government.
Although statutory counties are formed by state law, this charter elevates the consent of the governed above administrative dictates and laws to protect the people’s fundamental rights.
ARTICLE I. COMMUNITY BILL OF RIGHTS
Describes the authority of all governments as coming from the people, and the purpose of government to protect and secure human rights, locally; as rights, they cannot be preempted or taken away.
Incorporated municipalities (cities & villages) will retain the same right of local community self-government.
Specifies the following rights:
- Equal rights to initiative, referendum and recall, fair elections.
- Right to a healthy environment; people and ecosystems possess the right to clean air, water, soil; specifically bans commercialization of water from the Michindoh Aquifer outside of the Michindoh Aquifer boundaries for financial gain.
- Rights of Michindoh Aquifer and Michindoh Aquifer Ecosystem to exist, flourish.
- Right to a sustainable community.
- Right to own property and be free from eminent domain for private profit.
- Right to peaceful enjoyment of home.
- Right to govern corporate activities—-secures human rights over corporate privileges.
- Equal rights for all, banning discrimination.
ARTICLE II. CORPORATE POWERS RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES (Municipal Corporations)
Description of Williams County boundaries and limitations of powers of County Government.
ARTICLE III. FORM OF GOVERNMENT AND ELECTION
THE CURRENT STRUCTURE OF THE COUNTY GOVERNMENT IS NOT CHANGED.
Describes the authority of the form of government chosen.
Describes the elected and appointed officials in the county government, the general criteria for elected office.
Describes in detail the duties and responsibilities of each of the government officials.
ARTICLE IV. THE RIGHT OF LOCAL COMMUNITY SELF-GOVERNMENT
Details the principles of local community self-government and its exercise; describes three components:
(1) a system of government within the local community that secures and protects the rights of every individual in the community;
(2) the local government is controlled by the majority of the inhabitants;
(3) the right to alter or abolish the government if it infringes on those component rights.
Guarantees initiative, referendum, recall and amending the charter.
Specifies that government meetings as well as records be public.
ARTICLE V. GENERAL PROVISIONS
Practical details like the effective date of the charter, pending matters, laws in force, charter review, government officials’ oath of office and transition to charter government.
ARTICLE VI. SEVERABILITY
Legal statement that if any section(s) are found illegal or unconstitutional, the remaining sections are not invalidated.