County Government Functions and Responsibilities

As an agent of the state, the county government serves the entire county in these ways: (1) through elected officials, it administers and enforces state laws, collects taxes, assesses property, records public documents, conducts elections, issues licenses; (2) through appointed boards and officials, it provides parks, libraries, sewers, emergency management, public assistance, and hospitals. As required by state law, county government also serves unincorporated areas by providing such purely local government facilities and services as highways, police protection, building inspection, planning and zoning. Elected county officials oversee most of these services. A city or village may contract with the county to receive a service.

Hamilton County has no top executive and no single overall governing body. Responsibility for county government is shared by the Ohio General Assembly that has legislative power; the county courts that have judicial powers and a three-person board of county commissioners and eight other county officials who have administrative powers. 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.

The chart below describes how major county functions are divided between the board of county commissioners, other elected officials, and various boards and commissions.

  Board of County Commissioners Independent Boards, Commissions, Others Other Elected Officials

Economic Development

Economic development initiatives, community development

Environmental Control

Solid waste disposal, air and water quality management

General Government

Taxing, budgeting, purchasing, property management, building inspections, county facilities management, planning and zoning, human resources administration, board and commission appointments

Election-related activities, library trustees

Certification of available revenue, contracting and administering property tax laws (Auditor); recording deeds and other official records, (Recorder); investment and oversight of county funds, redemption of county warrants (Treasurer)


Alcohol and drug addiction services (ADAS), mental retardation -developmental disabilities services (MRDD), child fatality investigation, various children and family services, mental health services, health and hospitalization levies, hospital commission


Court records archive, title issuance, collecting and disbursing court costs (Clerk of Courts); operations of appeals, common pleas, municipal, juvenile, probate, and domestic relations court

Public Safety

9-1-1 service, homeland security

Legal counsel to the indigent (Public Defender), disaster planning and emergency management (EMA), regional law enforcement information network (CLEAR)

Investigation of deaths resulting from accidents/criminal acts (Coroner); county’s criminal and civil attorney, counsel to the BOCC (Prosecutor); law enforcement, jail operations, court security, crime investigation, process execution (Sheriff)

Public Works

Water and sewer districts

Construction and maintenance of county roads and bridges (Engineer)


Financing and operations of stadiums

Zoo levy, cultural activities (Museum Center levy), parks commission

Social Services

Job and Family Services

Senior services levy, veterans services