Our Work: Know Hamilton County

Our Work: Know Hamilton County

KNOW HAMILTON COUNTY - YOUR GUIDE OF HOW COUNTY GOVERNMENT WORKS

Know Hamilton County was produced by volunteer members of the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area's County Government Committee as a public service and is offered to the citizens of Hamilton County as a resource for understanding and participating in county government. The first edition was published in 1926. This edition was published in 2014.

The purposes of this publication are to show the role of the county and how various units of government relate to it and to give an overview of selected local government services in the county. The information provided in this publication describes a complex system of government in simplified terms. It is believed to be accurate as of May 2020.

 

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.

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.

Auditor

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.

Coroner

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

Engineer

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.

Recorder

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

Sheriff

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

Treasurer

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.

Development

Planning, Zoning & Community Development,
Economic Development, Facilities

Infrastructure/Environment

Board of HealthCommunications CenterMetropolitan Sewer DistrictEnvironmental 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.

Townships

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, see the listing below.  

SPECIAL DISTRICTS

Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA)

As a political subdivision of the State, CHMA provides affordable rental housing opportunities for individuals and families throughout the county. The agency operates or administers three separate programs.
  • Asset Management units are owned and managed by CMHA.
  • Housing Assistance Payments are offered to households through a voucher program.
  • The agency operates several hundred units of affordable rental housing.

The Authority is governed by a 5-member Board which includes appointees by the City of Cincinnati and the County government and county courts. For more information, go to the Housing section of this Know Hamilton County or to the CMHA website.

Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District

The Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District is a County organization, established by State law, responsible for ensuring that the County achieves State mandated goals for recycling and waste reduction. The district achieves these goals through the implementation of waste reduction programs targeted to residents, communities, businesses and schools. The district is a division of Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services. In Hamilton County, the local Solid Waste Management District Policy Committee functions as a policy board determining recycling policy for the County and leaving implementation to the District staff.
Recycling and Solid Waste website

Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (HCSWCD)

The district is a legal subdivision of the State of Ohio responsible for the conservation of natural resources within Hamilton County. There is a special emphasis on soil and water with a focus on assisting landowners in planning and applying conservation practice on the land. The district is governed by a volunteer board of 5 supervisors elected to three-year terms by the public at the district's Annual Meeting.
HCSWCD website

Hamilton County Storm Water District

The Hamilton County Storm Water District was established by the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners in response to the federally mandated Phase II storm water program and appointed the County Engineer to be the District Administrator. The Hamilton County Storm Water District Oversight Board is the executive committee responsible for recommending the policies of the Hamilton County Storm Water District. The district membership consists of 42 of the 49 jurisdictions in Hamilton County including all 12 of the townships.
Storm Water District website

Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD)

The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) is a publicly-operated wastewater utility that serves the wastewater removal and treatment needs of residents and businesses in Hamilton County, Ohio. The Board of County Commissioners of Hamilton County, Ohio established MSD in 1968 under the Ohio Revised Code. Under a fifty year contractual arrangement, the City of Cincinnati agreed to operate and manage MSD's daily operations. The Board of County Commissioners funds and sets policy for the district's operations.
MSD website

Miami Conservancy District (MCD)

This district is a river management agency operating in the South West Ohio throughout the Great Miami Water shed to control flooding of the Great Miami River. It operates 5 dams to control flooding, monitors water quality and actively promotes recreational amenities along the river. MCD is a political subdivision of the state of Ohio operating under Ohio Revised Code. The district is governed by a Conservancy Court comprised of one common pleas court judge from each of the nine counties within the district's official boundaries. The Conservancy Court appoints the district's Board of Directors. The board establishes district policy and provides oversight to the board appointed General Manager.
MCD website

Mill Creek Valley Conservancy District (MVCD)

The district was formed in 1962 under the jurisdiction of the Hamilton County Conservancy Court to be the sponsor for the Army Corps of Engineer's flood control projects along the Mill Creek and it's tributaries. The Mill Creek Valley Conservancy District seeks responsible flood control options for the Mill Creek flood plain in Hamilton and Butler Counties, Ohio.
MVCD website

Port Authority of Greater Cincinnati

The Port Authority is a governmental entity authorized by the Ohio Revised Code. It is a public agency that collaborates with private corporations, non-profits and government agencies to encourage economic development. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors; half appointed by the City of Cincinnati and half by the County.
For more information go to the Port Authority website

Great Parks of Hamilton County

The Hamilton County Park District, newly renamed "Great Parks of Hamilton County", was created in 1930 under the Ohio Revised Code to protect local natural resources and provide outdoor recreation and education for area residents. It is a political subdivision of the State of Ohio governed by a Board of Park Commissioners. The Board is comprised of 5 members appointed by the Judge of Probate Court.
Great Parks website

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

The Public Library offers free and open access to its collections and services. The library district consists of the main library downtown and many branches county-wide. The Library is managed by a Board of Trustees consisting of seven members, four appointed by the Hamilton County Commissioners and three by the judges of the Court of Common Pleas. The Library operates under provisions of the Ohio Revised Code.
Public Library website

The Southwest Regional Transit Authority(SORTA)

SORTA is an independent political subdivision of the State of Ohio that operates Metro fixed-route bus service and Access paratransit service for people with disabilities. SORTA is governed by a 13-member board-of-trustees, 7 appointed by the City of Cincinnati and 6 appointed by Hamilton County. Hamilton County appoints 3 of its own trustees plus 1 each representing Butler, Clermont, and Warren counties.
Learn more about SORTA on the Metro website

The Transportation Improvement District (TID)

The Transportation Improvement District was formed by the Board of County Commissioners to administer and provide assistance with complex transportation projects involving multiple jurisdictions and multiple modes of transportation. The TID board is comprised of 5 voting members appointed by the county commissioners, 1 non-voting member appointed by the Ohio Speaker of the House and 1 non-voting member appointed by the President of the Ohio Senate. This board oversees the work of the appointed TID Director.
For more information, you can contact the TID board through the Board of County Commissioners.

COUNTY FINANCES

BUDGET ADMINISTRATION

County officials, acting as agents of the State of Ohio, are responsible for administering, collecting and distributing property taxes for all local governmental units within Hamilton County, for reviewing all local budgets and for setting property tax rates.

County Treasurer

The County Treasurer receives taxes for the county and for local governmental units (not including municipal earnings and liquor taxes), and the County Auditor distributes to the local units the tax money collected on their behalf. The Treasurer is an elected official serving a four-year term.

County Auditor

The County Auditor serves as both the chief fiscal officer for the county and the real property assessor for all political subdivisions within the county. As chief fiscal officer the Auditor is responsible for maintaining the county's centralized accounting, payroll and benefits systems and for auditing payments made on behalf of county agencies. The Auditor is an elected official serving a four-year term.

Office of Budget and Strategic Initiatives

The Office of Budget and Strategic Initiatives, reporting to the County Administrator, is responsible for the development and implementation of the county budget.

County Budget Commission

The County Budget Commission, consisting of the auditor, treasurer and prosecuting attorney, reviews all local government budgets and determines that rates of taxation are adequate to meet expenditures and to retire bonds. The Budget Commission makes sure that tax rates do not exceed statutory limitations and that provisions for retirement of bonded indebtedness are being carried out properly and determines the distribution of the state's Local Government Funds to the governmental units in the county.

BUDGET PROCESS

The County Administrator prepares a budget for the upcoming year. The recommended budget is considered by the Board of County Commissioners and a public hearing is held. The Commissioners may make changes to the Administrator's recommendation. The budget is then adopted along with the passage of the annual appropriations resolution. This must occur before December 31st of each year. Current year and prior years budgets are available on the website for the county Office of Budget and Strategic Initiatives.

BUDGET REQUIREMENTS

  • Proposed expenditures may not exceed available resources.
  • About 17.2% of county budget funds comes from property taxes earmarked for specific purposes such as health care, zoo, mental health, mental retardation, children's services, senior services, museum center, police information center and bond retirement.
  • The County's General Fund consists of all receipts not earmarked or restricted as to purpose.
  • The amount of debt which a county may incur, both with and without voter approval, is limited by state law and is dependent on the total property tax valuation. The limit on non-voted debt is 1% of the total tax duplicate.

 

SOURCES OF REVENUE

Local Sources of Revenue

Property Tax:

Property tax is calculated by the State of Ohio for many government entities including Counties, School Districts, Villages, and Municipalities. The Hamilton County Auditor assesses property values and the Hamilton County Treasurer collects property taxes.

Sales and Use Taxes:

The collection of Sales and Use Taxes is handled by the Ohio Department of Taxation. The sales tax which is revenue to the state of Ohio is 5.75%, and additional amounts are imposed by the Hamilton County Commissioners for purposes such as sports stadiums and more recently public transportation.

Other Taxes:

Hamilton County has other sources of tax revenue such as the Hotel Lodging Tax. Fees and other charges: Many departments also have fees and charges for services. For example, the courts have filing fees, and the Metropolitan Sewer District charges user fees.

Debt Issuance:

Hamilton County may issue debt to be repaid with future revenues. The Hamilton County Office of Budget and Strategic Initiatives maintains a debt policy and administers debt issuance and repayment.

Grants:

Various departments may apply and receive many different types of grants, some from state and federal government agencies and others from foundations.

Investment Earnings, Rental Income, Other Income:

Hamilton County has various other income sources such as investment income, rent of land and buildings.

Nonlocal Sources of Revenue

Ohio returns some state-collected tax money to local governmental units.

  • Townships, municipalities, libraries, as well as the county, share in the state's Local Government Fund.
  • Local governments receive a share of state auto registration fees and the motor vehicle.
  • They also receive grants (e.g. for welfare and education) from both state and federal governments.

TAX LEVY REVIEW COMMITTEE

The Tax Levy Review Committee (TLRC) is a 9-member citizen board, established by the county commissioners in 1995 to study and make recommendations concerning any tax levy request to be put before the voters of Hamilton County. The TLRC was established to provide independent input to the commissioners and to serve as representatives of the taxpayers of Hamilton County in the levy process. More information including the TLRC members, levy review timelines and the results of the TLRC work is available on the TLRC page of the Hamilton County website, and their summary, as well as the annual cost residential.
 

PROPERTY TAXES LEVIES & RATES

The total tax rate on an individual property is the sum of the tax rates for all the taxing districts in which the property lies. The rates, therefore, vary considerably from place to place within Hamilton County, ranging in 2013 from 70.71 to 160.59 mills for the full year. Rates are based on the county-wide levies show below, as well as the rate approved for each area school. The Hamilton County Auditor website lists the most current rates for county-wide levies, by school district and total tax levy rates.

 

Expenses:

The Hamilton County Commissioners approve an annual budget for all funds in Hamilton County which is prepared by the Office of Budget and Strategic Initiatives. The Hamilton County Auditor pays bills submitted by Hamilton County Departments and ensures legal budgets are not exceeded. The Auditor also prepares the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. 
 

Restricted Funds:

Restricted Funds and Grant Funds make up the vast majority of Hamilton County financial activity. For example, the Metropolitan Sewer District collects fees and uses the revenue to pay for operations. Likewise one of the voter approved property taxes supports the operation of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Society, and these funds are collected and distributed to the zoo by Hamilton County. 

 

General Fund:

The General Fund is one which the Hamilton County Commissioners have some discretionary spending authority for authorized purposes. The General Fund is used to pay for mandated services such as the Sheriff and the Courts. For an overview of the General Fund please see the Budget Basics available at https://www.hamiltoncountyohio.gov/government/departments/budget_and_str...

For a budget overview please see the Budget in Brief available at https://www.hamiltoncountyohio.gov/government/departments/budget_and_str...

For detailed information about Hamilton County Operations, Revenue, and Expenses please see the Annual Information Statement which includes the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report as Appendix A. https://www.hamiltoncountyohio.gov/government/departments/budget_and_str... annual_information_statement

 

 
 

ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE

LAW ENFORCEMENT

The Sheriff, Prosecuting Attorney, and Coroner are elected to office by the voters of Hamilton County for four-year terms. 

Sheriff

The County Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the county. The Sheriff's office provides full police protection to the unincorporated areas of the county and maintains police jurisdiction in all municipalities, townships and villages. In addition, the Sheriff provides services to common pleas and is in charge of the county jail and corrections on a countywide basis.
Sheriff's Office website

Public Defender Office

The Public Defenders Office provides legal representation for indigent persons in both felony and misdemeanor criminal cases in Hamilton County.
Public Defender's website

County Prosecuting Attorney

The Prosecuting Attorney (PA) performs both a criminal and civil law function.
County Prosecuting Attorney website

County Coroner / Crime Lab

The County Coroner investigates the cause, mode and manner of sudden and unexpected deaths, particularly those due to violence or otherwise suspicious or unexplained.
County Coroner website

DETENTION AND CORRECTIONS

The Sheriff's Court and Jail Services Division is responsible for the operation of all adult county detention and corrections facilities. Juvenile offenders not bound over to Adult Court are sent to the Youth Center. The Youth Center is under the jurisdiction of Juvenile Court. Juvenile felons may be assigned to a state facility.
Corrections Division website
Juvenile Youth Center website

COURT SYSTEMS

All courts sitting in Hamilton County belong to either the Federal system or the state system.

Federal Courts

Two federal courts sit in Cincinnati
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division serves 10 Ohio counties and tries most cases involving federal laws.
Ohio Southern District Court website

U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit has appellate jurisdiction for Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.
Court of Appeals website

State Courts

Ohio Supreme Court consists of a chief justice and 6 justices. It has final judicial review authority in the state level. Justices serve six-year staggered terms and are elected by voters of Ohio.
Ohio Supreme Court website
State of Ohio Court Structure

Ohio First District Court of Appeals (First appellate district of Ohio) is primarily a court of judicial review. Judges serve six-year staggered terms. Six judges are elected by voters of Hamilton County. Appeals Court website

Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judges are elected county wide by Hamilton County voters and serve six-year staggered terms. The Common Pleas Court has 4 divisions:

  • General Division-jurisdiction in civil cases involving claims and in criminal cases involving felonies committed in Hamilton County; has appellate jurisdiction over lower courts decisions and over Board of County Commissioners; supervises the Jury Commission and the Grand Jury. There are 16 Judges including the Drug Court and one magistrate. The Drug Court component of the Court of Common Pleas handles fourth and fifth degree drug and drug related cases. Common Pleas website
  • Domestic Relations Division-deals with family issues: divorce, dissolution of marriage, enforcing spousal support, child support and custody. There are 3 judges elected to six-year staggered terms. Domestic Relations website
  • Juvenile Court Division-jurisdiction over juvenile (under 18) related matters, including traffic offenders, delinquency, dependency, abuse, neglect allegations and custody matters. There are 2 judges elected to six-year staggered terms. Juvenile Court website
  • Probate Court Division-deals with wills, estates, adoption, guardianship, marriage licenses, name changes and commitment to mental institutions. There is one judge elected to a six-year term. Probate Court website

Hamilton County Municipal Court Judges serve six-year staggered terms and are elected by district. Although there are 2 judges elected from each of the 7 Hamilton county districts, they serve together as a single court. The court has jurisdiction in civil cases involving claims of $15,000 and under and in criminal cases involving misdemeanors committed in Hamilton County. Holds traffic court and holds preliminary hearings in felony cases.
Municipal Court website
Municipal Court District Map

Small Claims Court - jurisdiction in civil cases involving claims of less than $3,000. Usually handled by a magistrate.
Small Claims Guide

Mayor's Courts - jurisdiction over moving traffic violations and limited criminal jurisdiction in municipal ordinance cases.
Mayors Court Guide

Judges

Hamilton County voters elect all judges sitting in the Ohio First District Court of Appeals, the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas and the Hamilton County Municipal Court. Judges are elected on a non-partisan ballot. Nomination is usually partisan. If a vacancy occurs during a term, the Governor appoints a new judge who serves until the next scheduled judicial election.
Hamilton County website by department and court

Clerk of Courts

In Hamilton County the Clerk of Courts is elected by the voters of Hamilton County for a four-year term. The Clerk is responsible for maintaining the records of the Court of Common Pleas and various other courts that have appellate jurisdiction at the county level. By statute, the Clerk is required to maintain a record of certain civil and criminal cases. Its personnel have responsibilities in the Municipal Courts, both criminal and civil. Their duties include arrest, transportation of prisoners, subpoenas, evictions and courtroom security. The Clerk's office has the following 3 divisions.

  • The Traffic Division processes traffic tickets and executes arrest warrants.
  • The Civil Division handles civil suits and evictions.
  • The Auto Title Division issues Certificates of Title for cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, mobile homes, and boats.
    Clerk of Courts website

Juries

Prospective jury members in Hamilton County are chosen by lot from lists of registered voters. Jury lists so chosen are drawn upon, also by lot, when needed. A grand jury (9 members) hears criminal cases to determine whether an accused person should be held for trial. A trial or petit jury (number varies) hears both criminal and civil cases. In Federal Courts, juries are chosen by a combined list of registered voters and people with drivers licenses in the judicial district.



HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES

HEALTHCARE SERVICES

Health Districts

Ohio law provides or both city and county health districts, and requires them to provide specified health services. In addition to the Hamilton County Public Health (HCPH) District, there are four independent city health districts: Cincinnati, Norwood, Sharonville and Springdale.

Hamilton County Public Health

HCPH is made up of two departments - the Department of Community Health Services and the Department of Environmental Health Services. Each department is made up of divisions and programs that carry out unique public health functions, and work together to prevent disease and injury, promote wellness, and protect people from environmental hazards. Hamilton County Public Health is governed by a Board of Health and day to day functions are carried out by the Health Commissioner. The Board has the authority to adopt rules, regulations and resolutions, which have the same status as law, and to enact policies within Hamilton County Public Health.
Hamilton County Public Health website

Hamilton County Hospital Commission

The commission reviews requests from health care organizations that wish to finance capital expenditures, including construction and equipment, through the sale of Chapter 40 hospital facilities revenue bonds, and to make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) about the advisability of such bonds.
Hospital Commission website

Hospitals

Besides the many private hospitals, 2 partially tax-supported hospitals serve the county.

University Hospital is a teaching hospital serving Greater Cincinnati and beyond.
More information about University Hospital is available on the website

Cincinnati Children's Hospital provides child health care through research, education and innovation.
More information about Childrens's Hospital is available on the website

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board

Under state law, the Board is the county government agency responsible for planning, funding and evaluating the effectiveness of community mental health services and alcohol and drug addiction services available to Hamilton County residents. The Board develops and manages a system of alcohol, other drug, and mental health services responsive to individual needs and differences. An 18-member board of trustees governs the Board. Ten trustees are appointed by the Hamilton County Commissioners, 4 by the Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH), and 4 by the Director of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services.
Mental Health and Recovery website

HUMAN SERVICES

Job & Family Services

HCJFS administers state, federal and local programs designed to help those in need. The department provides public assistance, children's services, child support and workforce development programs to the community.

The department's duties include: local child protection, adult protection, child care, child support enforcement, workforce development, cash assistance, food assistance and Medicaid assistance. HCJFS is the largest department within Hamilton County government and reports to the Board of Hamilton County Commissioners. Hamilton County Job and Family Services Planning Committee serves as an advisory body to the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners with regard to the full continuum of family, employment and social services which are locally developed to meet local needs and state and federal law.
Job & Family Services website

Hamilton County Family and Children First Council

State legislation requires that there be an Ohio Family Children First Cabinet at the state level and that each county in Ohio have a local Family and Children First Council. Hamilton County Job and Family Services currently serves as the administrative and fiscal agent of the Hamilton County Family and Children First Council. The Council works in cooperation with several community partners to provide early intervention services for children in at-risk families.
Family and Children First website

Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services

DDS, a county organization established by state law, provides services to infants, children and adults with developmental disabilities. The agency's governing Board is made up of seven people from the Hamilton County community, and the Superintendent of Hamilton County DD Services. The Board of County Commissioners appoints 5 members, and the senior probate court judge appoints the 2 others.
Developmental Disabilities Services website

Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio(COA)

COA is a non-profit organization serving older adults, their caregivers and their families. COA is designated by the Ohio Department of Aging to be the Area Agency on Aging for the southwestern corner of the state. COA is the central planning and coordinating authority for services to older adults in Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton and Warren counties. The Council is governed by a Board of Trustees and employs a professional staff under the direction of an Executive Director. An Advisory Council of older adults, business people and service providers helps plan and coordinate services. Council on Aging`s mission is to enhance the lives of adults by assisting them to remain independent at home through a range of quality services.
Council on Aging website

SAFETY SERVICES

FIRE DEPARTMENTS

Hamilton County has over 50 separate fire departments serving local governments Click here to see a listing by city and an area map of all fire departments in Hamilton County.

HAMILTON COUNTY COMMUNICATIONS CENTER

The Hamilton County Communications Center provides professional public safety communications services. It is the first link in the chain between public and safety services.
Communications Center website

HAMILTON COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY

The Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is authorized by Ohio Revised Code to coordinate and administer countywide, all-hazards emergency management and disaster preparedness functions for Hamilton County and its 49 political subdivisions.
Emergency Management website


DEVELOPMENT & HOUSING

DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT

The divisions of the Hamilton County Department of Planning and Development are as follows 
  • Department of Building Inspections is responsible for issuing Building Permits within the unincorporated townships of Hamilton County and eight contract jurisdictions.
    Building Inspections website.
  • Community Development Division provides housing, community and economic development to disadvantaged families and individuals in Hamilton County. The Division administers the following federal grants for Hamilton County: the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), the Neighborhood Stabilization Programs (NSP)1,2 and 3, the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) and the Emergency Shelter Program (ESG). The primary purpose of the CDBG Program is to fund projects in participating communities of Hamilton County that either benefit low to moderate income populations, eliminate slum and blight, or address a particular urgent need.
    Community Development website
  • Regional Planning Commission((RPC) The Regional Planning Commission provides advisory planning services to the unincorporated areas (12 townships) of the County. It also provides services upon request to 37 county municipalities that are members of the Commission and pay annual fees.
    Planning Commission website.
  • Storm & Water Supply approves storm water management and flood protection for all new developments, regulates water line installation, installs and repairs fire hydrants, storm sewers, and investigates storm water drainage concerns.
    Storm and Water website
  • Rural Zoning Commission (RZC) serves the Board of County Commissioners by administering and enforcing zoning in four townships, or parts thereof, and by providing contract services to a number of townships and villages in Hamilton County.
    Zoning Commission website

HOUSING

Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority

CMHA is a political subdivision of the state of Ohio. It provides quality, affordable housing for residents of low-to-moderate income throughout Hamilton County through both a Public Housing and Rental Assistance Program. The Authority is a separate entity that is controlled by a board of commissioners. Composition the Board is set by sate law. It includes:

  • Two members are appointed by the City of Cincinnati (one must be a public housing resident)
  • One member appointed by Hamilton County Probate Court
  • One member appointed by Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas
  • Three appointed by the County Commissioners (one nominated by the Township Assoc. and one by the Municipal League)

The Housing Authority operates or administers three separate programs.

  • CMHA owns and manages an inventory of about 5,000 housing units, which includes large family communities, scattered-site housing and housing for elderly and disabled. CMHA is the property owner for the public housing units and is responsible for leasing, maintenance, rent collection, etc.
  • CMHA administers a Housing Choice Voucher program which is tenant-based and often referred to as "Section 8." The housing subsidy follows the tenant, allowing them to find rental housing in the private market in a Hamilton County neighborhood of their choice. The Voucher program, which is market-driven, offers a broad range of housing choices and allows low-income residents to integrate more into the mainstream of society. CMHA currently administers about 10,000 rental assistance vouchers.
  • The authority operates several hundred units of affordable rental housing.
    Housing Authority website.

Hamilton County Home Improvement Program (HIP)

HIP is an initiative of the Hamilton County Commissioners and the Hamilton County Treasurer. The HIP loan allows homeowners in Hamilton County communities to borrow money to repair or remodel their home or rental property at interest rates 3% below the lowest rate a bank would normally offers. Loans may be used for specified purposes.
HIP website

PLANNING PARTNERSHIP

The Planning Partnership is a collaborative initiative of the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission. The Partnership is an advisory board that works to plan for the future and takes a long-range, comprehensive approach to planning. The regular membership of the Planning Partnership is open to all political jurisdictions in Hamilton County. Jurisdictions join the partnership by adopting the Resolution of Cooperation and payment of an annual fee.
Planning Partnership website.

PORT AUTHORITY

The Port Authority is a governmental entity authorized by the Ohio Revised Code. It is a public agency that collaborates with private corporations, non-profits and government agencies to encourage economic development. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors; half appointed by the City of Cincinnati and half by the County.

As an independent government unit, it may conduct the traditional water, air and other transportation activities, as well as own property and provide financing for local economic development initiatives. Ohio law defines the "authorized purposes" of a port authority (and provides various powers to port authorities to further those authorized purposes) as follows:

  • Activities that enhance, foster, aid, provide, or promote transportation, economic development, housing, recreation, education, governmental operations, culture, or research within the jurisdiction of the port authority.
  • Activities authorized under Sections 13 and 16 of Article VIII, Ohio Constitution (permitting aid to private enterprises to promote economic development and housing in Ohio).
    Port Authority website



ENVIRONMENT & INFRASTRUCTURE

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES

Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services (DOES)

DOES consists of two divisions which strive to protect, preserve and enhance the environmental quality of our community. Click here for the website.

  • The Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency monitors air quality and regulates industrial air emissions for Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties.
  • Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste Management District provides recycling and waste reduction assistance to residents, communities, schools and businesses in Hamilton County.

TRANSPORTATION

Transportation Improvement District (TID)

The District was formed in 1995 by the Board of County Commissioners, in accordance with Section 5540 of the Ohio Revised Code, to administer and provide assistance with complex transportation projects involving multiple jurisdictions and multiple modes of transportation. Its purpose is to develop, finance, construct, maintain, repair and operate transportation projects.

The board of trustees consists of five voting members appointed by the county commissioners, one nonvoting member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly and one nonvoting member appointed by the President of the Senate of the General Assembly. Board members hold office for a 2-year term.

Roads and Bridges + The Hamilton County Engineer has an annual budget in the Road and Bridge Funds to maintain the more than 500 miles of roads and 522 bridges in Hamilton County.
The TID currently has no website available.

 

REGIONAL AFFILIATIONS

OKI (OHIO-KENTUCKY-INDIANA) REGIONAL COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS

OKI is a council of local governments, state transportation departments, local public transit agencies, business organizations and community groups committed to developing collaborative strategies, plans and programs which will improve the quality of life and the economic development potential of the Tri-State. It is also the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for transportation planning in the eight-county region's conduit for federal transportation funding. Click here for the website.

 

OHIO RIVER VALLEY WATER SANITATION COMMISSION (ORSANCO)

ORSANCO is an interstate water pollution control agency established by Compact in 1948. The eight member states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia) pledge to cooperate in the control of water pollution within the Ohio River Basin. Click here for the website.

 

County Commissioners Association of Ohio

CCAO Guide: https://ccao.org/resources/manuals-and-handbooks/county-commissioners-handbook/

Revenue Sources: Most Revenue Sources are designated for particular purposes and are expended as restricted funds. Unrestricted funds are a part of the Hamilton County General Fund. Property Tax: Property tax is calculated by the State of Ohio for many government entities including Counties, School Districts, Villages, and Municipalities. The Hamilton County Auditor assesses property values and the Hamilton County Treasurer collects property taxes. Sales and Use Taxes: The collection of Sales and Use Taxes is handled by the Ohio Department of Taxation. The sales tax which is revenue to the state of Ohio is 5.75%, and additional amounts are imposed by the Hamilton County Commissioners for purposes such as sports stadiums and more recently public transportation. Other Taxes: Hamilton County has other sources of tax revenue such as the Hotel Lodging Tax. Fees and other charges: Many departments also have fees and charges for services. For example, the courts have filing fees, and the Metropolitan Sewer District charges user fees. Debt Issuance: Hamilton County may issue debt to be repaid with future revenues. The Hamilton County Office of Budget and Strategic Initiatives maintains a debt policy and administers debt issuance and repayment. Grants: Various departments may apply and receive many different types of grants, some from state and federal government agencies and others from foundations. Investment Earnings, Rental Income, Other Income: Hamilton County has various other income sources such as investment income, rent of land and buildings, Expenses: The Hamilton County Commissioners approve an annual budget for all funds in Hamilton County which is prepared by the Office of Budget and Strategic Initiatives. The Hamilton County Auditor pays bills submitted by Hamilton County Departments and ensures legal budgets are not exceeded. The Auditor also prepares the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Restricted Funds: Restricted Funds and Grant Funds make up the vast majority of Hamilton County financial activity. For example, the Metropolitan Sewer District collects fees and uses the revenue to pay for operations. Likewise one of the voter approved property taxes supports the operation of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Society, and these funds are collected and distributed to the zoo by Hamilton County. General Fund: The General Fund is one which the Hamilton County Commissioners have some discretionary spending authority for authorized purposes. The General Fund is used to pay for mandated services such as the Sheriff and the Courts. For an overview of the General Fund please see the Budget Basics available at https://www.hamiltoncountyohio.gov/government/departments/budget_and_str... For a budget overview please see the Budget in Brief available at https://www.hamiltoncountyohio.gov/government/departments/budget_and_str... For detailed information about Hamilton County Operations, Revenue, and Expenses please see the Annual Information Statement which includes the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report as Appendix A. https://www.hamiltoncountyohio.gov/government/departments/budget_and_str... annual_information_statement

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