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

County Structure

Hamilton County has no top executive and no single governing body. Responsibility for county government is shared by the Ohio General Assembly which has legislative power, the county courts which have judicial power and an elected 3-member Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and 8 other elected officials who have administrative power.

Also participating in Hamilton County government are a number of semi-independent boards and commissions created by the state, or permitted by state law and created by the authorities specified when the need arises.

Click here view a chart to which describes how major county functions are divided between the BOCC, other elected officials, and various boards and commissions. In many cases the responsibility for county services is a shared responsibility of the BOCC and other entities. Click here to see the list of county services where the BOCC has sole responsibility versus the areas where the BOCC shares responsibility for services. A current list of all elected officials can be found on the Hamilton County website

County Elected Officials & Functions

Four-Year Terms

Board of County Commissioners

Three officials - approve annual budget and
most county expenditures, direct/supervise
the County Administrator and his staff. Click here for the website.


Chief fiscal officer for the county, conducts
regular real property appraisals, issues warrants to pay county bills. Click here for the website.

Clerk of Courts

Enters all orders, decrees and judgments,
collects court costs, records court dockets
and journals, issues and transfers automobile title certificates. Click here for the website.


Determines cause of death not clearly due
to natural causes, autopsies, issues death
certificates, supervises morgue. Click here for the website.


Supervises construction and maintenance of
county roads & bridges, Provides engineering maps. Click here for the website.

Prosecuting Attorney

Prosecutes in Common Pleas & Municipal
Courts where state is a party, legal adviser to county officials. Click here for the website.


Records deeds, mortgages, plats, liens.
Click here for the website.


Chief law enforcement officer, custodian of
county jail. Click here for the website.


Collects taxes, pays bills, invests. Click here for the website.

Six-Year Terms

Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals

6 Judges
Appeals from lower courts.
Click here for the website

Court of Common Pleas

General Division
16 judges including one judge assigned to the Drug court
Criminal cases, civil cases over $500.
Click here for the website

Domestic Relations Division
3 judges
Divorce, annulment, alimony, custody cases.

Click here for the website.

Juvenile Court
2 judges
Under 18, paternity, support.
Click here for the website.

Probate Court Division
1 judge
Wills, estates, licenses, adoption.
Click here for the website.

Municipal Court

14 judges
Civil cases involving claims of up to $15,000 and misdemeanors.
Click here for the website.

County Administration

County Administrator

The County Administrator is the administrative head of the county and has the primary administrative responsibility for county government. The County Administrator is appointed by the Board of County Commissioners and serves at their direction and under their supervision. The Administrator's office is responsible for managing the services where the Board has sole responsibility and working with the other entities where the Board shares responsibility for county services. The Administrator's organization is currently structured into the following segments.

Office of Budget & Strategic Initiatives

Budgeting, policy analysis, strategic advice
Click here for the website.


Planning, Zoning & Community Development,
Economic Development, Facilities


Board of Health, Communications Center, Metropolitan Sewer District, Environmental Services

Job and Family Services

Welfare, child support, children's services,
adult services and employment and workforce development
Click here for the website.

Social Services

Family and Children First, Family Services, Mental Health, Senior Services, Veterans Affairs

The Administrator's office also manages the county-owned sports stadiums and riverfront parking operations, the Banks development, central purchasing services and the county personal department. Click here for the Administrator's office organizational chart.

Types of Local Governments

Ohio law permits several categories of local government: Counties, Municipalities, Townships, School Districts and Special Districts. Hamilton County contains all 5 of these categories. Click here for a listing of municipalities, townships and school districts with links to their websites.

Cities and Villages (Municipalities)

Municipalities are a stronger form of government in Ohio because they have home rule authority, allowing them to govern their own affairs. Villages automatically become cities when their population exceeds 5,000. There are 20 cities, including the City of Cincinnati, and 17 villages in Hamilton County.


All unincorporated areas remain within townships. The Hamilton County's 12 townships are political subdivisions of the state. Each elects three trustees and a clerk. Townships have only the powers and taxing authority specifically granted by the state legislature. Their responsibilities include road maintenance, fire and police protection, drainage, care of public cemeteries and zoning. Click here for a map of Hamilton County townships.

School Districts

Public Education is a state responsibility, but much of the control has been delegated to independent school districts. Hamilton County is divided into 22 school districts of three types: Local, City and Exempted Village, serving a population of over 115,000 students. In addition, there is a County district which is a agency of the state educational system and a Joint Vocational district. Click here for a map of Hamilton County School Districts and click here for metrics by district.

Special Districts

State law has authorized the creation of a variety of special districts to serve specific governmental purposes. A special district has an independent budget and means of financing. It is established in response to a need for a specific service not offered already within the boundaries of an existing governmental unit. Each type of special district is authorized by a separate law; districts are usually single-purpose. For more information on Special Districts, go to the Special Districts section of this Know Hamilton County.