Chapter 523: MERGED TOWNSHIPS

523.01 Merger to create new township.

The territory of one or more townships may be merged with that of a contiguous township to create a new township, in the manner provided under this chapter. The new township shall have all of, and only, the rights, powers, and responsibilities afforded by law to townships.

Added by 129th General AssemblyFile No.28, HB 153, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2011.

523.02 Initiative petition.

(A) A resolution for a merger under this chapter may be proposed by initiative petition by the electors of each township being proposed for merger, and adopted by election by these electors under the same circumstances, in the same manner, and subject to the same penalties as provided by sections 731.28 to 731.40 and 731.99 of the Revised Code for municipal corporations, except that all of the following apply:

(1) Each board of township trustees shall perform the duties imposed on the legislative authority of the municipal corporation under those sections;

(2) Initiative petitions shall be filed with the township fiscal officer of each township proposed for merger, who shall perform the duties imposed under those sections upon the city auditor or village clerk;

(3) Initiative petitions shall contain the signatures of not less than ten per cent of the total number of electors in a township proposed for merger who voted for the office of governor at the most recent general election in the township for that office;

(4) Each signer of an initiative petition shall be an elector of the township in which the election on the proposed resolution is to be held.

(B) The merger shall take effect one hundred twenty days after certification by the board or boards of elections that the merger has been approved by the electors of each township proposed for merger.

Added by 129th General AssemblyFile No.28, HB 153, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2011.

523.03 Submission to voters.

(A) The boards of township trustees of two or more townships, by adopting resolutions by a majority vote of the board of township trustees of each township, may cause the appropriate board of elections for each township to submit to the electors of each township the question of merger under section 523.01 of the Revised Code. The question shall be voted upon at the next general election occurring not less than ninety days after the certification of the resolutions to the appropriate board of elections.

(B) In submitting to the electors of each township the question of merger, the board of elections shall submit the question in language substantially as follows:

"Shall the townships of ................ (Names of all of the townships to be merged) be merged to create the new township of ............... (Name of the new township)?"

(C) The merger shall take effect one hundred twenty days after certification by the board or boards of elections that the merger has been approved by the electors of each township proposed for merger.

Added by 129th General AssemblyFile No.28, HB 153, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2011.

523.04 Merger agreement.

(A) Within one hundred twenty days after approval of the merger by the electors under section 523.02 or 523.03 of the Revised Code, each board of township trustees of the townships merged, by adopting a joint resolution approved by a majority of the members of each board, shall enter into a merger agreement that contains the specific terms and conditions of the merger. At a minimum, the merger agreement shall set forth all of the following:

(1) The names of the former townships that were merged;

(2) The name of the new township;

(3) The place in which the principal office of the new township will be located or the manner in which it may be selected;

(4) The territorial boundaries of the new township;

(5) The date on which the merger took effect;

(6) The governmental operations and organization for the new township, including a plan for electing officers at the next general election that is held not later than ninety days after the merger agreement is finalized;

(7) A procedure for the efficient and timely transition of specific services, functions, and responsibilities from each township and its respective offices to the new township;

(8) Terms for the disposition of the assets and property of each township, if necessary;

(9) The liquidation of existing indebtedness for each township, if necessary;

(10) A plan for the common administration and enforcement of resolutions of the townships merged, to be enforced uniformly within the new township;

(11) A provision that specifies whether there will be any zoning changes as a result of the merger, if applicable;

(12) A plan to conform the boundaries of an existing special purpose district with the new township, to dissolve the special purpose district, or to absorb the special purpose district into the new township. As used in this division, "special purpose district" has the meaning in division (F) of section 523.06 of the Revised Code.

(B) A copy of the joint resolution and the merger agreement adopted under this section shall be filed with the township fiscal officer of the new township. The merger agreement shall take effect on the day on which such filing is made.

(C) If no merger agreement, or if only a partial merger agreement, is entered into within the time period prescribed by division (A) of this section, the new township shall comply with and operate under a merger agreement that contains the terms and conditions required by section 523.06 of the Revised Code.

Added by 129th General AssemblyFile No.28, HB 153, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2011.

523.05 Succession of interests.

(A) A new township created under this chapter shall succeed to the following interests of each township merged:

(1) All money, taxes, and special assessments, whether in the township treasury or in the process of collection;

(2) All property and interests in property, whether real or personal;

(3) All rights and interests in contracts, or in securities, bonds, notes, or other instruments;

(4) All accounts receivable and rights of action;

(5) All other matters not included in this section that are not addressed in the merger agreement.

(B) A new township created under this chapter is legally obligated for all outstanding franchises, contracts, debts, and other legally binding obligations for each township merged into the new township. A new township created under this chapter is legally responsible for maintaining, defending, or otherwise resolving any and all legal claims or actions of each township merged into the new township.

Added by 129th General AssemblyFile No.28, HB 153, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2011.

523.06 Nonstatutory and partial merger agreements.

If a merger agreement is entered into as required by section 523.04 of the Revised Code, this section does not apply. If a merger agreement is not entered into under section 523.04 of the Revised Code, the merger agreement shall contain all of the terms and conditions specified in this section. If a partial merger agreement is entered into under section 523.04 of the Revised Code, this section applies only to the extent any term or condition that is required by section 523.04 of the Revised Code to be addressed in the merger agreement is not addressed therein.

The terms and conditions of a merger agreement to which this section applies shall be as follows:

(A) All members of each board of township trustees shall serve as board members of the new township. At the first general election for township officers occurring not less than ninety days after a merger is approved, the electors of the new township shall elect three township trustees with staggered terms of office. The first terms of office following the election shall be modified to an even number of years not to exceed four to allow subsequent elections for the office to be held in the same year as other township officers.

(B) The township fiscal officer of the largest township, by population, shall be the township fiscal officer for the new township. At the first general election for township officers occurring not less than ninety days after the merger, the electors shall elect a township fiscal officer, whose first term of office shall be modified to an even number of years not to exceed four to allow subsequent elections for that office to be held in the same year as other township fiscal officers.

(C) Voted property tax levies shall remain in effect for the parcels of real property to which they applied prior to the merger, and the merger shall not affect the proceeds of a tax levy pledged for the retirement of any debt obligation. Upon expiration of a property tax levy, the levy may only be replaced or renewed by vote of the electors in the manner provided by law, to apply to real property within the boundaries of the new township. If the millage levied inside the ten-mill limitation of each township merged is different, the board of township trustees of the new township shall immediately equalize the millage for the entire new township.

(D) For purposes of the retirement of all debt obligations of each township merged, the township fiscal officer shall continue to track parcels of real property and the tax revenue generated on those parcels by the tax districts that were in place prior to the merger, and shall provide that information on an annual basis to the board of township trustees of the new township. Debt obligations that existed at the time of the merger shall be retired from the revenue generated from the parcels of real property that made up the township that incurred the debt before the merger.

(E)

(1) With respect to any agreement entered into under Chapter 4117. of the Revised Code that covers any of the employees of the townships merged under this chapter, the state employment relations board, within one hundred twenty days after the date the merger is approved, shall designate the appropriate bargaining units for the employees of the new township in accordance with section 4117.06 of the Revised Code. Notwithstanding the recognition procedures prescribed in section 4117.05 and division (A) of section 4117.07 of the Revised Code, the board shall conduct a representation election with respect to each bargaining unit designated under this division in accordance with divisions (B) and (C) of section 4117.07 of the Revised Code. If an exclusive representative is selected through this election, the exclusive representative shall negotiate and enter into an agreement with the new township in accordance with Chapter 4117. of the Revised Code. Until the parties reach an agreement, any agreement in effect on the date of the merger shall apply to the employees that were in the bargaining unit that is covered by the agreement. An agreement in existence on the date of the merger is terminated on the effective date of an agreement negotiated under this division.

(2) If an exclusive representative is not selected, any agreement in effect on the date of the merger shall apply to the employees that were in the bargaining unit that is covered by the agreement and shall expire on its terms.

(3) Each agreement entered into under Chapter 4117. of the Revised Code on or after the effective date of this section involving a new township shall contain a provision regarding the designation of an exclusive representative and bargaining units for the new township as described in division (E) of this section.

(4) In addition to the laws listed in division (A) of section 4117.10 of the Revised Code that prevail over conflicting agreements between employee organizations and public employers, division (E) of this section prevails over any conflicting provisions of agreements between employee organizations and public employers that are entered into on or after the effective date of this section pursuant to Chapter 4117. of the Revised Code.

(5) As used in division (E) of this section, "employee organization" and "exclusive representative" have the same meanings as in section 4117.01 of the Revised Code.

(F)

(1) If the boundaries of the new township are not coextensive with a special purpose district, the new township shall remain in the existing special purpose district as a successor to the original township, unless the special purpose district is dissolved. The board of township trustees of the new township may place a question on the ballot at the next general election held after the merger to conform the boundaries, dissolve the special purpose district, or absorb the special purpose district into the new township on the terms specified in the resolution that places the question on the ballot for approval of the electors of the new township.

(2) As used in division (F) of this section, "special purpose district" means any geographic or political jurisdiction that is created under law by a township merged.

(G) Zoning codes that existed at the time of the merger shall remain in effect after the merger, and the townships that existed before the merger shall be treated as administrative districts within the new township for the purposes of zoning.

Added by 129th General AssemblyFile No.28, HB 153, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2011.

523.07 Effect of disapproval of merger.

If a merger is disapproved by a majority of those voting on it in the townships proposed to be merged, an identical merger shall not be considered for at least three years after the date of the disapproval.

Added by 129th General AssemblyFile No.28, HB 153, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2011.