Making Democracy Work

Know Hamilton County

Table of Contents

County Structure
Special Districts
County Finances
    Administration of Justice
Health & Human Services
Safety Services
Development & Housing
    Environment & Infrasturcture
Regional Affiliations



Know Hamilton County was produced by volunteers of the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area as a public service and is offered to the citizens of Hamilton County as a resource for understanding and participating in county government. The purposes of this publication are:
  • To show the role of the county and how various units of government relate to it.
  • To give an overview of selected local government services in the county.

The information in this publication describes a complex system of government in simplified terms. It is believed to be accurate as of May, 2014. The reader is encouraged to use this information as a basis for further inquiry. The Know Hamilton County Appendix of this document provides links to additional websites for demographics, statistical data, maps and more.

Limits of County Authority

The county is an administrative arm of the state, structured in the manner outlined by the State Constitution and the laws enacted by the General Assembly. It is able to do only those things specifically allowed by state law. However, it does have the power to levy certain taxes. It may levy a one-half or one percent county sales tax or a transit authority sales tax; both are piggyback taxes that are collected with the state sales tax. Other taxes require voter approval.

Role of the County

The county government serves the entire county in these ways:
  • Through elected officials it administers and enforces state laws, collects taxes, assesses property, records public documents, conducts elections and issues licenses.
  • Through appointed boards and officials, it provides parks, libraries, sewers, emergency management, public assistance and hospitals.
  • County government also serves unincorporated areas by providing such local government facilities and services as highways, police protection, building inspection, planning and zoning. Elected county officials, who oversee most of these services, have no authority in incorporated areas; however, a city or village may contract with the county to receive a service.