Chapter 703: CLASSIFICATION

703.01 Classification - federal census.

(A) Municipal corporations, which, at the last federal census, had a population of five thousand or more, or five thousand registered resident electors or resident voters as provided in section 703.011 of the Revised Code, are cities. All other municipal corporations are villages. Cities, which, at any federal census, have a population of less than five thousand, shall become villages. Villages, which, at any federal census, have a population of five thousand or more, shall become cities.

(B)

(1) No municipal corporation shall have its classification as a village changed to that of a city by virtue of there being counted, in determining the population of that municipal corporation, either of the following:

(a) College or university students in attendance at an educational institution located within the municipal corporation if the residential addresses of those students when not in attendance at the institution, or the residential addresses of the guardians of those students, as determined by the records of the institution kept by its registrar, are at a place other than the municipal corporation in which the institution is located;

(b) Persons under detention in a detention facility located within the municipal corporation if the residential addresses of those persons when not detained in that facility, as determined by the records of the facility, are at a place other than the municipal corporation in which the facility is located.

(2) After each decennial census, the secretary of state shall issue a proclamation certifying the number of permanent residents in a municipal corporation in which a college or university or in which a detention facility is located and the number of students attending a college or university or the number of persons detained in a detention facility located within the municipal corporation.

(3) As used in division (B) of this section, "detention facility" has the same meaning as in section 2921.01 of the Revised Code.

Effective Date: 10-29-1999 .

703.011 Village with more than 5,000 electors becomes city.

In addition to the method of determining classifications of municipal corporations set out in section 703.01 of the Revised Code, villages, which at the most recent general election had more than five thousand resident electors registered with the board of elections of the county in which the village is situated or, when more than five thousand resident electors have voted at the most recent general election, in such village, shall become cities. In such case, the board of elections of the said county shall immediately certify to the secretary of state the number of resident electors registered or voting within said village, and the secretary of state, upon receiving said certification from the board of elections, certifying that there are five thousand or more resident electors registered or voting within said village, shall issue a proclamation to that effect. A copy of the proclamation shall forthwith be sent to the mayor of the village, which copy shall forthwith be transmitted to the legislative authority of the village, read therein, and made a part of the records thereof. Thirty days after the issuance of the proclamation the village shall be a city.

Effective Date: 08-22-1995 .

703.02 Enumeration after census.

When the preliminary federal census report of a city indicates that such city will return to the status of a village, the legislative authority of the city may by resolution direct the city auditor to make an enumeration as provided in sections 703.03 to 703.05, inclusive, of the Revised Code.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.03 Report of result of enumeration.

Upon presentation of the resolution as provided in section 703.02 of the Revised Code, the city auditor shall cause an enumeration of the population of the city to be taken and shall report the results thereof to the legislative authority of the city and to the secretary of state.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.04 Appointment of enumerators - compensation - duties.

Within five days from the time he is directed to cause an enumeration to be taken as provided in section 703.02 of the Revised Code, the city auditor shall appoint five persons to make the enumeration. The enumerators may be paid an amount necessary to assure competent personnel, but in no event shall the amount paid exceed ten dollars per day. Each person so appointed shall take an oath or affirmation to make such enumeration accurately and truly to the best of his skill and ability. Each enumerator shall be provided with a book in which he shall record correctly the name of each resident of the city with the name of the street and number of the house in which he lives.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.05 Time for completion - oath of enumerators.

Within ten days from the date of their appointment as provided in section 703.04 of the Revised Code, the enumerators shall complete the enumeration and return their books to the city auditor. With the return of the enumeration to the auditor, each enumerator shall certify with his affidavit that he has taken the census accurately and truly to the best of his knowledge and belief and such lists contain only the names of persons who were residents of such city at the time the said names were placed on the lists. Any officer authorized to administer oaths may administer such oath or affirmation, and take and certify such affidavit.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.06 Proclamation of population.

When the result of any federal census or an enumeration as provided in sections 703.02 to 703.05, inclusive, of the Revised Code, is officially made known to the secretary of state, he forthwith shall issue a proclamation, stating the names of all municipal corporations having a population of five thousand or more, and the names of all municipal corporations having a population of less than five thousand, together with the population of all such municipal corporations. A copy of the proclamation shall forthwith be sent to the mayor of each such municipal corporation, which copy shall forthwith be transmitted to the legislative authority of such municipal corporation, read therein, and made a part of the records thereof. Thirty days after the issuance of such proclamation each municipal corporation shall be a city or village as the case may be.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.07 Status of city or village officers.

Officers of a village advanced to a city, or of a city reduced to a village, shall continue in office until succeeded by the proper officers of the new municipal corporation at the regular municipal election, and the ordinances thereof not inconsistent with the laws relating to the new municipal corporation shall continue in force until changed or repealed.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.08 Reduction to village by action of citizens.

A city, from which territory has been detached since the last federal census, may surrender its corporate rights as such city and be reduced to a village in the manner provided by sections 703.09 to 703.19, inclusive, of the Revised Code.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.09 Content of petition.

A petition, requesting that the city, from which territory has been detached, surrender its corporate rights and be reduced to a village, signed by at least one hundred citizens of the city, shall be presented to the legislative authority setting forth that by reason of the detachment of territory the population of the city has been reduced to less than five thousand, and that a majority of the citizens thereof desire to surrender its corporate rights, and requesting that it be reduced to a village. Such petition shall also contain a prayer that the legislative authority authorize the taking of a census in the city for the purpose of ascertaining its population.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.10 Resolution to take census.

Upon presentation of a petition as required by section 703.09 of the Revised Code the legislative authority, by resolution, at its next regular meeting, shall authorize the city auditor to take a census of the city and report the result thereof to the legislative authority. The resolution need be read but once, and it shall be published as are other resolutions of a general or permanent nature.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.11 Census enumerators.

The city auditor shall, within five days from the time he is authorized to take a census as provided by section 703.10 of the Revised Code, appoint five persons to take the enumeration, who shall each be allowed by the auditor, out of his contingent fund, three dollars per day as compensation for services. Each such person shall take an oath or affirmation to make such enumeration accurately to the best of his ability. For the purpose of taking such census, each enumerator shall be provided with a book in which he shall record correctly the name of each resident of the city, with the name of the street and the number of the house in which such resident lives.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.12 Certification of enumeration.

Each census enumerator, with the return of the census enumeration to the city auditor, shall return the book containing the list of the names and addresses, and shall certify with his affidavit that he has taken and returned the census accurately to the best of his knowledge and belief, and that such list contains the names of all persons so enumerated and no others. The auditor or any officer authorized to administer oaths may administer such oath or affirmation, and may take and certify such affidavit.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.13 Resolution of surrender.

The census enumerators shall, within ten days from the date of their appointment, complete the enumeration and return their books to the city auditor. Such auditor shall then make an abstract of the enumeration and transmit it to the legislative authority at its next regular meeting after the report of the enumerators to the auditor. If the result of the census shows that the population of such city is less than five thousand, the legislative authority, by resolution, shall declare the corporate rights of the city surrendered and that each city is reduced to a village.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.14 Procedure upon failure to act.

If the legislative authority fails to authorize the city auditor to take the census of a city, or, if the auditor fails to proceed under authority properly given, upon the presentation of a copy of the original petition provided by section 703.09 of the Revised Code to the board of county commissioners, such board shall forthwith appoint five resident electors of such city as enumerators, who shall perform the duties provided in sections 703.11 and 703.12 of the Revised Code. Such enumerators shall take an oath or affirmation to take the census of the city accurately to the best of their ability.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.15 Transcript to be transmitted to legislative authority.

The census enumerators provided for by section 703.14 of the Revised Code, within ten days from the date of their appointment, shall complete their work of enumerating and return their books, duly verified, to the board of county commissioners. Such board shall then canvass the result of such census, and the county auditor shall make a transcript thereof and transmit a certified copy of such transcript to the legislative authority of the city for which the enumeration was taken. A copy of such transcript shall be spread upon the journal of the legislative authority and if the census shows the population of such city to be less than five thousand the legislative authority shall pass a resolution as provided by section 703.13 of the Revised Code, and the city shall forthwith become a village.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.16 Record of resolution - copy to secretary of state.

The city auditor , upon the passage by the legislative authority of a resolution surrendering the corporate rights of the city, shall make two certified transcripts of such resolution, one of which shall forthwith be delivered to the county recorder, who shall record it in the official records , and the other shall be forwarded to the secretary of state.

Amended by 130th General Assembly File No. 41, HB 72, §1, eff. 1/30/2014.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.17 Effect of surrender of corporate rights.

The surrender of corporate rights by a city, as provided by sections 703.08 to 703.16, inclusive, of the Revised Code, does not affect rights accrued or liabilities incurred by such city or the power to settle claims, dispose of property, or levy and collect taxes to discharge liabilities incurred. Such rights, liabilities, and powers, and the corporate character of such municipal corporation in respect thereto, shall remain in effect as though no surrender had been made.

After the presentation of a petition requesting such surrender, the city or legislative authority thereof shall not incur or create any new debt or liability, enter into any new contract, or increase the debts and liabilities of such city in any manner during the pendency of such petition until the result of the census is declared, except that current expenses may be paid or provided for.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.18 Collection and disbursement of taxes.

Taxes which remain due and unpaid at the time of the surrender of corporate rights pursuant to sections 703.08 to 703.16, inclusive, of the Revised Code, shall be collected, and shall, with all moneys in the city treasury, be applied to the objects for which they were raised. Moneys which remain on hand after the debts and liabilities of the city are discharged shall be paid into the village treasury, and all property owned by the city at the time of the surrender shall become the property of, and the title thereto shall vest in, the village.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.19 Payment of expenses incurred by commissioners.

When the census of a city desiring to surrender its corporate rights as such city and be reduced to a village is taken pursuant to the order of the board of county commissioners under section 703.14 of the Revised Code, the necessary expenses thereof shall be paid from the county treasury as other county expenses, but shall be charged against the municipal corporation in which the census was taken, and the amount so paid by the county shall be retained by the county auditor from funds due such municipal corporation at the time of making the next semiannual distribution of taxes.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.20 Surrender of corporate power by villages.

(A) Villages may surrender their corporate powers upon the petition to the legislative authority of the village, or, in the alternative, to the board of elections of the county in which the largest portion of the population of the village resides as provided in division (B)(1) of this section, of at least thirty per cent of the electors thereof, to be determined by the number voting at the last regular municipal election and by an affirmative vote of a majority of the electors at a special election, which shall be provided for by the legislative authority or, in the alternative, at a general or special election as provided for by the board of elections under division (B)(1) of this section. The election shall be conducted, canvassed, and the result certified and made known as at regular municipal elections. If the result of the election is in favor of the surrender, the village clerk or, in the alternative, the board of elections shall certify the result to the secretary of state, the auditor of state, and the county recorder, who shall record it in their respective offices. The corporate powers of the village shall cease upon the recording of the certified election results in the county recorder's office.

(B)

(1) If the legislative authority of a village fails to act upon the petition within thirty days after receipt of the petition, the electors may present the petition to the board of elections to determine the validity and sufficiency of the signatures. The petition shall be governed by the rules of section 3501.38 of the Revised Code. The petition shall be filed with the board of elections of the county in which the largest portion of the population of the village resides. If the petition is sufficient, the board of elections shall submit the question "Shall the village of.......... surrender its corporate powers?" for the approval or rejection of the electors of the village at the next general or special election, in any year, occurring after the period ending ninety days after the filing of the petition with the board. If the result of the election is in favor of the surrender, the board of elections shall certify the results to the secretary of state, the auditor of state, and the county recorder, who shall record it in their respective offices. The corporate powers of the village shall cease upon the recording of the certified election results in the county recorder's office.

(2) In addition to filing the petition with the board of elections as provided in division (B)(1) of this section, a copy of the petition shall be filed with the board of township trustees of each township affected by the surrender.

(C) The auditor of state shall assist in facilitating a timely and systematic manner for complying with the requirements of section 703.21 of the Revised Code.

Amended by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 49, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2017.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .

703.201 Dissolution of village.

(A) As used in this section, "condition for surrendering corporate powers" means any of the following:

(1) The village has been declared to be in a fiscal emergency under Chapter 118. of the Revised Code and has been in fiscal emergency for at least three consecutive years with little or no improvement on the conditions that caused the fiscal emergency declaration.

(2) The village has failed to properly follow applicable election laws for at least two consecutive election cycles for any one elected office in the village.

(3) The village has been declared during an audit conducted under section 117.11 of the Revised Code to be unauditable under section 117.41 of the Revised Code in at least two consecutive audits.

(4) The village does not provide at least two services typically provided by municipal government, such as police or fire protection, garbage collection, water or sewer service, emergency medical services, road maintenance, or similar services. "Services" does not include any administrative service or legislative action.

(5) The village has failed for any fiscal year to adopt the tax budget required by section 5705.28 of the Revised Code.

(6) A village elected official has been convicted of theft in office, either under section 2921.41 of the Revised Code or an equivalent criminal statute at the federal level, at least two times in a period of ten years. The convicted official with respect to those convictions may be the same person or different persons.

(B) If the auditor of state finds, in an audit report issued under division (A) or (B) of section 117.11 of the Revised Code of a village that has a population of one hundred fifty persons or less and consists of less than two square miles, that the village meets at least two conditions for surrendering corporate powers, the auditor of state shall send a certified copy of the report together with a letter to the attorney general requesting the attorney general to institute legal action to dissolve the village in accordance with division (C) of this section. The report and letter shall be sent to the attorney general within ten business days after the auditor of state's transmittal of the report to the village. The audit report transmitted to the village shall be accompanied by a notice to the village of the auditor's intent to refer the report to the attorney general for legal action in accordance with this section.

(C) Within twenty days of receipt of the auditor of state's report and letter, the attorney general may file a legal action in the court of common pleas on behalf of the state to request the dissolution of the village that is the subject of the audit report. If a legal action is filed, the court shall hold a hearing within ninety days after the date the attorney general files the legal action with the court. Notice of the hearing shall be filed with the attorney general, the clerk of the village that is the subject of the action, and each fiscal officer of a township located wholly or partly within the village.

At the hearing on dissolution, the court shall determine if the village has a population of one hundred fifty persons or less, consists of less than two square miles, and meets at least two conditions for surrendering corporate powers. If the court so finds, it shall order the dissolution of the village and provide for the surrender of corporate powers in accordance with section 703.21 of the Revised Code. The attorney general shall file a certified copy of the court's order of dissolution with the secretary of state and the county recorder of the county in which the village is situated, who shall record it in their respective offices. Upon the recording in the county recorder's office, the corporate powers of the village shall cease.

(D) For purposes of this section, the population of a village shall be the population determined either at the last preceding federal decennial census or according to population estimates certified by the department of development between decennial censuses.

(E) The procedure in this section is in addition to the procedure of section 703.20 of the Revised Code for the surrender of the corporate powers of a village.

Effective Date: 08-29-2003; 12-20-2005 .

703.21 Rights and liabilities not affected by surrender of corporate power - disposition of township assets.

(A) The surrender of corporate powers by a village under section 703.20 or 703.201 of the Revised Code does not affect vested rights or accrued liabilities of the village, or the power to settle claims, dispose of property, or levy and collect taxes to pay existing obligations, or to operate its utilities, including collection of existing rates and charges for services rendered, until the ownership and operation of each utility is transferred to another entity. But, after the presentation of the petition mentioned in section 703.20 of the Revised Code or receipt of the audit report and notice mentioned in section 703.201 of the Revised Code, the legislative authority of the village shall not create any new liability until the result of the election under section 703.20 of the Revised Code is declared or the decision of the court of common pleas under division (C) of section 703.201 of the Revised Code is declared, or thereafter, if the result, in either case, is for the surrender of the village's corporate powers, except to the extent such liability is necessary in connection with the operations of the village's utilities consistent with prudent utility practice. If the auditor of state notifies the village that the attorney general may file a legal action under section 703.201 of the Revised Code, but the attorney general does not file such an action, the village shall not create any new liability for thirty days after receipt of the auditor of state's notice, except to the extent such liability is necessary in connection with the operations of the village's utilities consistent with prudent utility practice.

(B) Due and unpaid taxes may be collected after the surrender of corporate powers, and all moneys or property remaining after the surrender belongs to the township or townships located wholly or partly within the village, subject to the agreements entered into as provided for in this section for the timely transfer of real and personal property and subject to the report of an audit or, at the discretion of the auditor of state, an agreed-upon procedure audit performed by the auditor of state under section 117.11 or 117.114 of the Revised Code. The auditor of state shall commence the audit or agreed-upon procedure audit within thirty days after receipt of the notice of dissolution as provided in division (E) of section 117.10 of the Revised Code. Cash balances shall be transferred at the completion of the audit or agreed-upon procedure audit performed by the auditor of state. Except as otherwise provided by agreement of the affected village and townships, if more than one township is to receive the remaining money or property, the money and property shall be divided among the townships in proportion to the amount of territory that each township has within the village boundaries as compared to the total territory within the village.

(C)

(1) Village real and personal property, other than electric, water, and sewer utility property, shall be transferred in a timely manner in accordance with agreements between or among the affected village and township or townships. If no such agreements have been reached within sixty days after the certificate of dissolution is filed with the county recorder, title to real and personal property other than any electric, water, and sewer utility property vests by operation of law in the affected township or townships. If more than one township is affected, and agreements have not been reached within sixty days after the certificate of dissolution is filed, title vests by operation of law in proportion to the amount of territory that each township has within the village boundaries as compared to the total territory within the village.

(2) Any agreements entered into under this section regarding the transfer of real property shall be recorded with the county recorder of the county in which the affected real property is situated, along with affidavits stating facts relating to title as provided for in section 5301.252 of the Revised Code. The county recorder shall make appropriate notations in the county records to reflect the conveyance of the village's interest in real property in accordance with the recorded agreements resulting from the surrender of corporate powers. The notations shall include a reference to the county's recorded certificate of dissolution.

In the absence of any agreements and upon the recording of affidavits relating to title, the county recorder shall make appropriate notations in the county records to reflect the conveyance of the village's interest in real property and to evidence that title vested by operation of law in the township or townships as otherwise provided for in this section and as a result of the surrender of corporate powers. The recording of a certificate of dissolution or a certified copy of it, any agreements regarding the transfer of real property, and supporting affidavits serve as sufficient evidence of a transfer of title from the former village to a township or townships. These documents shall be recorded in the same manner as a deed of conveyance, except that the affected township or townships are exempt from any fees specified under section 317.32 of the Revised Code.

(3) Cash balances shall be transferred at the completion of the audit, or, at the discretion of the auditor of state, the agreed-upon procedure audit performed by the auditor of state.

(D)

(1) Electric and water and sewer utility property shall be transferred by agreement entered into by the village and the entity that will be taking over the electric and water and sewer utility property and assets. Cash balances shall be transferred at the completion of the audit, or, at the discretion of the auditor of state, the agreed-upon procedure audit performed by the auditor of state. The provision of utility and other services shall be uninterrupted during the transition period following the surrender of corporate powers.

(a) Following the filing of the certificate of dissolution, if it is determined that a county, or a regional water and sewer district organized under Chapter 6119. of the Revised Code, is obligated to assume water and sewer utility property and assets by default, the board of county commissioners or board of trustees of the district, as appropriate, may petition the court of common pleas of the county in which the village was located, for an order to revise the current user fees, rates, and charges charged, or assessments levied, by the utility. The board of county commissioners or board of trustees of the district shall file with the petition a systems audit of the utility. The systems audit shall address the financial solvency of the utility; the utility's debt service obligations and operating revenue stream, including user fees, rates, charges, and assessments; the utility's compliance with operating permit requirements; the necessary system maintenance, upgrades, and operational modifications and their associated costs for the utility; outstanding, pending, or potential enforcement actions against the utility; and any other relevant matters impacting the operational viability and financial solvency of the utility.

When considering whether to grant the order, the court shall review the systems audit and any other relevant evidence. The order of the court shall assure that the operational viability and financial solvency of the utility is maintained, and that an unreasonable financial burden is not placed upon the county or district due to the acquisition of the utility property and assets.

(b) In the case of a village electric utility, the village shall be required to take all necessary steps to transfer its ownership and operation, including continuing with normal operations and activities, fulfilling its contractual and other obligations, and transferring its contractual and other obligations to a successor entity in a timely manner following the filing of the certificate of dissolution. Such steps shall include hiring a third-party engineer knowledgeable about the operation of municipal electric systems to conduct a systems audit of the electric utility, addressing such items as set forth in division (D)(2) of this section. The systems audit shall commence not later than sixty days after the filing of the certificate of dissolution. Such systems audit is a proper expense of the village's electric utility fund. If the village's electric utility fund has a balance of zero or a negative fund balance, the absorbing entity shall pay for the systems audit. During this period, the village's electric utility shall continue with all normal operations and activities, shall continue fulfilling its contractual and other obligations, including with its customers and users and licensees of its poles, conduits, and rights-of-way, and shall collect charges for service at the rates in effect on the date the certificate of dissolution is filed.

(2) The systems audit required under division (D)(1)(a) or (b) of this section shall not prevent the auditor of state from conducting the audit, or, at the discretion of the auditor of state, the agreed-upon procedure audit, required by this section.

(E) As used in divisions (C) and (D) of this section, "certificate of dissolution" means the certified election results approving the surrender of corporate powers as recorded by the county recorder under section 703.20 of the Revised Code.

After the surrender of corporate powers, all resolutions of the township or townships into which the village's territory was dissolved shall apply throughout the township's newly included territory.

Amended by 132nd General Assembly File No. TBD, HB 49, §101.01, eff. 9/29/2017.

Amended by 129th General AssemblyFile No.141, HB 509, §1, eff. 9/28/2012.

Effective Date: 08-29-2003 .

703.22 Identical municipal and township boundaries.

When the limits of a municipal corporation become identical with those of a township, all township offices shall be abolished, and the duties thereof shall be performed by the corresponding officers of the municipal corporation. All property, moneys, credits, books, records, and documents of such township shall be delivered to the legislative authority of such municipal corporation. All rights, interests, or claims in favor of or against the township may be enforced by or against such municipal corporation.

Effective Date: 02-14-1967 .

703.23 Judicial notice of classification.

All courts shall take judicial notice of the classification of municipal corporations, and of their advancement, reduction, and surrender of powers.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953 .