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Administrative divisions of Ohio

The administrative divisions of Ohio are counties, municipalities cities and villages, townships, special districts and school districts

Elections for county officials are held in even-numbered years, while elections for officials in the municipalities, townships, and local boards of education are held in odd-numbered years


  • 1 Counties
  • 2 Municipalities
  • 3 Townships
  • 4 School districts
  • 5 References


Main article: Ohio county government See also: List of counties in Ohio

Ohio is divided into 88 counties1 Ohio law defines a structure for county government, although they may adopt charters for home rule12 The minimum population requirement for incorporation is 1,600 for a village and 25,000 for a city1

Summit County1 and Cuyahoga Countycitation needed have chosen an alternate form of government, while all of the other counties have a structure that includes the following elected officers:

  • Three county commissioners the county board of commissioners3
  • County sheriff:4 The highest law enforcement officer in the county Many cities and villages, and even some townships, have their own police forces which take over the sheriff's patrolling and response duties in their own areas, but the sheriff remains responsible for the remaining areas of the county In some counties with large municipalities, the sheriff may have no patrolling and response duties, but the sheriff remains responsible for running the county jail, and acting as an officer of the local courts serving warrants, transporting prisoners, acting as bailiff, etc
  • County coroner:5 Responsible for determining the cause of death in suspicious circumstances Is the only person in the county with the authority to arrest the sheriff
  • County auditor6
  • County treasurer7
  • Clerk of the court of common pleas8
  • County prosecutor:9 Responsible for acting on behalf of the state in criminal matters and also acts as the county government's legal counsel In rural areas, the elected prosecutor may choose to take a reduced salary and act as a "part-time" prosecutor In such cases, the prosecutor may offer private legal services, but only in non-criminal matters
  • County engineer10
  • County recorder:11 Keeps records of changes in title of real property within the county

The Ohio Constitution allows counties to set up a charter government as many cities and villages do,12 but only Summit County and Cuyahoga County have done so,13 the latter having been approved by voters in November 200914 Counties do not possess home rule powers and can do only what has been expressly authorized by the Ohio General Assembly

In the 2010 United States Census, the average population of Ohio's counties was 131,096; Cuyahoga County was the most populous 1,280,122 and Vinton County was the least 13,435 The average land area is 464 sq mi 1,200 km2 The largest county is Ashtabula County at 70244 sq mi 1,8193 km2 and the smallest is Lake County at 22821 sq mi 5911 km2 The total area of the state is 40,86069 sq mi 105,8287 km21516

Nine of the counties existed at the time of the Ohio Constitutional Convention in 180217 A tenth county, Wayne, was established on August 15, 1796, and encompassed most of Northwest Ohio18 During the Convention, the county was opposed to statehood, and was not only left out of the Convention, but dissolved; the current Wayne County is unrelated to the original17


See also: Government of Columbus, Government of Cleveland, Government of Cincinnati, List of cities in Ohio, and List of villages in Ohio

In Ohio, there are two kinds of incorporated municipalities: cities and villages1 The 2008-2009 Roster1920 provided by the Ohio Secretary of State enumerates 251 cities and 681 villages in the state

Population is the sole distinguishing point between cities and villages; in general, municipalities with fewer than five thousand residents at the last federal census are villages and with more than five thousand are cities Two exceptions exist:21

  • A municipality with at least five thousand registered voters is a city
  • A municipality with more than five thousand residents is a village if its population falls below five thousand after subtracting out-of-town students and prisoners

When the boundaries of a township are coterminous with the boundaries of a city or village, the township ceases to exist as a separate government1

In order to incorporate as a city, the territory to be incorporated must meet the following conditions per section 70729 of the Ohio Revised Code:

  1. It shall consist of not less than four square miles
  2. It shall have a population of not less than twenty-five thousand and a population density of at least one thousand persons per square mile
  3. It shall have an assessed valuation of real, personal, and public utility property subject, except as otherwise provided in division A3 of this section, to general property taxation of at least twenty-five hundred dollars per capita In determining per capita assessed valuation under division A3 of this section, the assessed valuation of any tangible personal property, buildings, structures, improvements, and fixtures that are exempt from taxation under division B of section 5709081 5709081 of the Revised Code shall be added to the assessed valuation of real, personal, and public utility property subject to general property taxation
  4. It shall not completely surround an existing municipal corporation
  5. It shall be contiguous

Municipalities are defined in section 70301A of the Ohio Revised Code:

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 703011 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

Municipalities have full home rule powers, may adopt a charter, ordinances and resolutions for self-government2 Each municipality chooses its own form of government, but most have elected mayors and city councils or city commissions City governments provide much more extensive services than county governments, such as police forces and professional as opposed to volunteer fire departments

Additional municipal services are often financed by local income taxes that townships cannot impose except in a Joint Economic Development District with a municipality Not all municipalities levy income taxes; those that do range from 03% in the Village of Indian Hill to 30% in Parma Heights

Municipality names are not unique: there is a village of Centerville and a city of Centerville; also a city of Oakwood and two similarly named villages: Oakwood, Cuyahoga County, Ohio and Oakwood, Paulding County, Ohio


See also: List of townships in Ohio

The territory of each county is divided into townships There are more than 1,000 townships in Ohio, ranging from the very small with only a few hundred inhabitants eg Washington in Warren County to gigantic townships with tens of thousands of residents and bigger than most cities of the state eg Colerain and West Chester The entire area of the state is encompassed by township governments, except for townships that are coterminous with a city or village1

Townships may have limited home rule powers22 Townships with 3,500 to 5,000 residents in an unincorporated territory may adopt a limited home rule government upon petition of voters after a referendum1 Townships with 5,000 or more population in their unincorporated area may adopt limited home-rule government powers, either after voter approval or by resolution of the board of township trustees under certain conditions1 Such townships with 15,000 or more population are called "urban townships"1

When the boundaries of a township are coterminous with the boundaries of a city or village, the township ceases to exist as a separate government called a paper township1 As a result, there are many townships that do not exist as functioning legal jurisdictions eg City of Cincinnati is in Millcreek Township but does not exist separately

Townships have four elected officials: A three-member board of township trustees1 and a fiscal officer23 All are elected to four-year terms in non-partisan elections

School districtsedit

There are more than 600 city, local, and exempted village school districts providing K-12 education in Ohio There are also about four dozen joint vocation school districts which are separate from the K-12 districts The borders of the school district do not strictly follow county, township, or municipal borders A school district can exist in multiple townships, municipalities, or counties

Each city school district, local school district, or exempted village school district is governed by an elected board of education1 The board has direct authority over the local schools and appoints the local superintendent of schools A school district previously under state supervision municipal school district may be governed by a board whose members either are elected or appointed by the mayor of the municipality containing the greatest portion of the district's area1

School districts may levy local school taxes and issue bonds with voter approval1 Although most tax-financed schools are funded through property taxes, districts may also impose income taxes, which are up to 175% of earned income

In 1914, the Ohio General Assembly created county boards of education to provide support services to local school districts24 Subsequently, in 1995 the county boards of education were renamed Educational Service Centers and allowed to merge with neighboring ESCs to form regional agencies24 Each ESC is supervised by a locally elected governing board and headed by a superintendent24 On average 2351% of and ESC’s funding is provided by the state, 875% federal, 313% other, and 6461% is generated through fee-for-service contracts with customer school districts24


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Census 2007, p 235
  2. ^ a b Putnam & Schaefgen 1997, pp 106-114
  3. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 30501 et seq
  4. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 31101
  5. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 31301
  6. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 31901
  7. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 32101
  8. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 230301
  9. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 30901
  10. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 31501
  11. ^ Ohio Revised Code § 31701
  12. ^ Steinglass, Steven; Scarselli, Gino 2004 The Ohio State Constitution A Reference Guide Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers pp 272–273  OH county charter Other editions available: ISBN 0313267650 and Google Books
  13. ^ "County of Summit" Retrieved 2013-02-28 
  14. ^ "Issue 6 reform wins big and sets in motion even bigger changes for Cuyahoga County" clevelandcom Retrieved 2010-01-28 
  15. ^ "Ohio QuickFacts" US Census Bureau Archived from the original on 2013-03-03 Retrieved 2013-02-27 
  16. ^ "Population Estimates" US Census Bureau December 2009 Archived from the original on 2009-03-22 Retrieved 2013-02-27 
  17. ^ a b Laning, JF 1896 "The Evolution of Ohio Counties" Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications V: 326–350  Other editions available at ISBN 1249686741 and Google Books
  18. ^ Lawyer, James Patterson 1905 History of Ohio: From the Glacial Period to the Present Time Press of F J Heer p 381 Retrieved 2007-08-18  Other editions available at ISBN 9781279183281
  19. ^ Ohio Secretary of State The Ohio Municipal, Township and School Board Roster 
  20. ^ http://factfinder2censusgov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productviewxhtmlpid=DEC_10_PL_GCTPL1ST13&prodType=table
  21. ^ "Ohio Revised Code Section 70301A" Retrieved 2007-09-12 
  22. ^ Putnam & Schaefgen 1997, pp 110-111
  23. ^ http://codesohiogov/orc/50701
  24. ^ a b c d "About OESCA" Ohio ESC Association Retrieved 15 April 2014 
  • Individual State Descriptions: 2007 PDF, 2007 Census of Governments, United States Census Bureau, November 2012 
  • Putnam, Melanie K; Schaefgen, Susan M 1997 Ohio Legal Research Guide Wm S Hein Publishing ISBN 1-57588-087-3 LCCN 96-16186 

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