Ohio law clear on judicial powers
The flurry over House Bill 218, Expansion of Judicial Duties Over Park Districts, is over for now. The bill now lies dormant in the Ohio House of Representatives as the legislature will be in recess for the summer. In recent months Geauga County Probate Judge Grendell has attempted to expand his powers by writing this legislation. Before there are any more claims or confusion, let’s take a look at what actually are the probate judges existing powers with respect to parks.
According to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, there are six references in the Ohio Revised Code to judicial authority and responsibility over parks that were created under Section 1545.
The Ohio Revised Code:
1) Requires the probate judge to appoint successors to a park district board of park commissioners and to appoint additional members to the board if the board votes to expand the membership.
2) Authorizes the probate judge to remove a commissioner because of a filed complaint or the judge’s motion.
3) Requires the probate court to approve terms of donation of money or property to a board or of trust agreements between the board and a donor.
4) Requires the probate court to approve all sales of land owned by a park district.
5) Requires the probate court to approve annexation of territory into a park district and hold a hearing regarding the annexation.
6) Authorizes probate court to hear property owner appeals of assessments by a board and review and modify those assessments.
That is the extent of judicial authority over parks.
~Barb Partington, Munson Township
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