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Your Government

History of Ashtabula and Form of Government


The City of Ashtabula is located on the south shore of Lake Erie, fifty‑six miles east of Cleveland, Ohio.   On April 6, 1891, the village of Ashtabula was incorporated into a city under the laws of the State of Ohio. Ashtabula was named by the Indians.  The word was originally pronounced “Hash ‑ Ta La,” and its name, meaning “River of Many Fish,” was first applied to what is now the Ashtabula River.  Those who decided to settle on the west bank of the Ashtabula River Gulf in the early 1800′s faced the challenge of clearing forest land with crude tools, raising and storing food, and building shelters to protect themselves from the elements.  Although the task was formidable, a small number of settlers responded to the challenge and helped the area become a borough, a village, and eventually, a city.

The City’s area is 7.6 square miles with other areas considering annexation into the City corporation limits.  The City of Ashtabula is five hundred ninety feet above sea level.  According to the 2010 census, the City’s population was 19,680.  The Ashtabula County area population is now estimated at approximately 100,767.

The City of Ashtabula is a home rule municipal corporation established under the laws of the State of Ohio and operated under its own charter.  The current charter, which provides for a City Manager ‑ City Council form of government, was adopted on January 1, 1916.  The City Manager and the City Solicitor are elected by a vote of the people and serve for four‑year terms.  To provide necessary services to its citizens, the City of Ashtabula is divided into departments and financial management and control systems.  Services provided include police and fire protection, garbage and rubbish disposal, street maintenance, construction and repair, cultural, parks and recreational facilities, public health services, a municipal court, and a staff to provide support (i.e., payroll processing and accounts payable) to the service providers. The operation and control of these activities are provided by the City Council through the budgetary process and by the City Manager through administrative and managerial requirements and procedures.  All are responsible to the citizens of Ashtabula and are included as part of the reporting entity.

Legislative authority is vested in a seven-member Council consisting of five ward and two at‑large representatives, and is elected to serve for four‑year terms.  The at‑large candidate receiving the most votes becomes the council president, and the other at‑large candidate becomes the vice president.  City Council holds its regular bi-monthly council meetings on the first and third Mondays of each month.    The Council appoints the Clerk of Council and a Finance Director.


The Division of Police enforces local, state, and federal laws in addition to protecting citizens and their property.  Service to the community through an aggressive, proactive updated law enforcement approach is the main concern of the division.  The department, which is headed by the Chief of Police, consists of jail operations, auxiliary police, as well as a staff of lieutenants, patrol officers, and K-9 units.  Administrative services consist of the chief’s secretary and a records officer.  The police department is located at 110 West 44th Street.

The Division of Fire provides fire protection and emergency medical services to City of Ashtabula citizens, as well as placing strong emphasis on community involvement and education.  Staff training, planning and equipment maintenance activities remain high priorities.  A Chief leads the department which is composed of firefighters, an engineer, a lieutenant and captain personnel. The fire station is located at 4326 Main Avenue.


The Service Department is comprised of several divisions/departments administered by the Superintendent of Public Services; the division of Public Works, division of Sanitation, and Motor Maintenance.  The division of Public Works is responsible for the non-contractual maintenance of the City’s roadways, leaf collection, and snow removal in the winter.  They take care of the parks and playgrounds within the City.  Traffic signalization repairs and maintenance is also handled by Public Works.  The Sanitation department is responsible for the City-wide collection and removal of trash, both residential and commercial.  They have a state-of-the-art recycling center which handles all types of recyclables. Motor Maintenance performs routine maintenance and repairs to City vehicles; major repairs are outsourced as needed.

The Division of Wastewater Treatment is headed by the Superintendent who holds a Class IV certification.  The plant is running twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week with three shifts.  They treat the City’s sanitary sewage and that of some of the surrounding townships.  The plant is located at 303 Woodland Avenue.

The Health Department personnel provide essential public health services and information. They issue birth and death certificates.  The nursing staff administers immunization and vaccinations to children and adults.  The Environment Officer protects the public against environmental hazards. The Health Department is located at 4239 Lake Avenue.

The Planning and Community Development Department was created in 2012 by putting the City’s housing, engineering, zoning, code enforcement, grant administration and revolving loan administration functions in one department. The department issues permits and conducts site inspections. Code Enforcement oversees the residential rental stock in the City. These homes are inspected and landlords pay a rental fee, to ensure their rentals are in compliance with the City’s building codes. In addition, the Department is responsible for writing grants for major projects and the City’s CDBG programs. The department works with qualifying residents to improve their housing through CDBG housing grant programs.  These programs provide funding for the purchase of homes and repairs to owner occupied homes.

Building Maintenance personnel keep all City buildings clean and safe for employees as well as the public who visit our offices.

The Manager’s Department is the administrative arm of the City. The Manager is the elected official responsible for the Police, Fire, Service, Sanitation, Wastewater Treatment, Planning and Community Development and Building Maintenance Departments. The administrative offices are at 4250 Lake Avenue.

The Solicitor’s Department advises the City Council, the City Manager and all departments on legal matters concerning the City.  The department prepares all contract, legislation and legal documents.  The Solicitor is the City’s Prosecutor and has an assistant solicitor as well as an administrative secretary.  Their offices are located in the Annex Building at 110 West 44th Street.

The Municipal Court is the judicial branch of the City and is headed by the Honorable Municipal Judge elected by the citizens.  Civil and criminal cases, including traffic, are handled by the Court.  Probation obligations are handled in co-operation with the court.

The City Council is the legislative branch of the City.  All legislative matters of the City are brought to the Council for their approval.  The Council as a whole oversees the Clerk of Council and the Finance Department. The Clerk keeps a permanent record of all proceedings and legislation passed by Council.  All offices are located in Municipal Building at 4250 Lake Avenue. Council Chambers is located next tot the Municipal Building at 4230 Lake Avenue.

The Finance Department is responsible for the accurate recording of all receipts and disbursements.  The department issues accounts payable checks, bi-weekly payrolls, monitors debt payments, and maintains a capital asset system.  The department bills all City residents for trash pickup and for sewage usage.  Some township residents are also billed for sewer usage as they are connected to our Wastewater Treatment Plant. The department prepares the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.  The Auditor advises the City Council and City Manager on financial matters.

Income Tax Department is responsible for the collection of municipal income tax from 6,600 resident returns, 1,400 business net profits returns and the collection from 650 withholding accounts from businesses within the City.  The department offers free preparation in house service for the municipal income tax returns.  The department is under the general direction of the City Finance Director.

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