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Hamilton County, Ohio

Hamilton County is a county of the state of Ohio, located in the southwest corner of the state. The county seat is Cincinnati, and as of 2000, the population is 845,303 which made it the third largest county in Ohio. The county is named for Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

Table of contents

History

Most of Hamilton County was originally owned and surveyed by John Cleves Symmes, and the region was a part of the Symmes Purchase. The first settlers came down the Ohio River in 1788, and established the towns of Losantiville (later Cincinnati) and Cleves.

In 1790, Hamilton County was organized as the second county in the Northwest Territory. At that time its area included about an eighth of Ohio, and had 2,000 inhabitants (not counting Native Americans). Since then, other counties have been organized and its area reduced to its current size. Rapid growth occurred during the 1830s and 1840s as the area became a magnet for German and Irish immigrants.

During the Civil War, Morgan's Raid (a Confederate cavalry assault) passed through the northern part of the county in 1863.

Law and government

Counties in Ohio do not possess home rule powers but can do only what has been expressly authorized by the Ohio General Assembly. Like eighty-six other counties (the exception is Summit), the county has the following elected officials, as provided by statute:

  • Three county commissioners (the Board of Commissioners): Control budget; approve zoning; approve annexations to cities and villages; set overall policy; oversee departments under their control
  • County auditor: Values property for taxation; issues dog, kennel, and cigarette licenses; issues licenses for retailers for sales tax purposes; inspects scales, pumps, etc., used in commerce to see that they are accurate
  • County clerk of court of common pleas: Keeps filings of lawsuits and orders of the county court of common pleas; records titles for motor vehicles
  • County coroner: Determines causes of death in certain cases; is the only person with the power to arrest the sheriff.
  • County engineer: Maintains county roads and land maps
  • Prosecuting attorney: Prosecutes felonies and is the legal advisor to all other county officials and departments
  • County recorder: Keeps all land records, including deeds, surveys, mortgages, easements, and liens
  • County treasurer: Collects taxes, invests county money, provide financial oversight to municipalities and school districts in the county
  • County sheriff: Chief law enforcement officer, polices areas without local police; runs the county jail; acts as officer of the local courts (transporting prisoners, serving subpoenas, acting as bailiff, etc.)

All of these officials are elected to four-year terms in November of even-numbered years after being nominated in partisan primary elections. One commissioner and the auditor are elected in the same year as the governor in one cycle; the other two commissioners and the other officials are elected in the same year as the president of the United States. The clerk, coroner, prosecutor, recorder, and sheriff begin their terms on the first Monday in January. The auditor's term begins on the second Monday in March. The treasurer's term begins on the first monday in September. The commissioner who is elected with the governor begins his term on January 1. Of the other two seats, one term begins on January 2 and the second on January 3.

Any citizen of Ohio and the United States who is eighteen years of age or older and lives in the county may run for commissioner, auditor, treasurer, clerk of courts, or recorder. The other offices have specific additional requirements: candidates for prosecutor must be licensed to practice law; candidates for coroner must be licensed to practice medicine for two years; candidates for engineer must be both licensed surveyors and engineers; and candidates for sheriff must have certain education and supervisory experience in law enforcement.

If a vacancy arises, it is filled by the county central committee of the political party to which the former official belonged, i.e., the Republicans appoint someone to an office held by a Republican and the Democrats to an office held by a Democrat. If an office becomes vacant before the November election in the even-numbered year midway through the term, the appointee must run in a special election for the remainder of the term. If the office becomes vacant after then, the appointment is for the remainder of the term.

The Board of County Commissioners is the combined executive and legislative branch of county government but as their control over the independently elected officials is limited, there is effectively no real executive. However, one of the members of the board is named president of the board. The commissioners receive a full-time salary, but commissioners often have full-time occupations on the side. The board also employs a clerk to record its proceedings. Since 1963, it has employed an administrator to run the day-to-day operations of the county. As of 2005, the commissioners are Pat DeWine, Phil Heimlich, and Todd Portune. Heimlich was elected in 2002, replacing Tom Neyer, Jr., who was president from 1999 through 2002.

The board of commissioners often create numerous subordinate departments to handle specific services. These vary from county to county; among the most common are departments for building and zoning, health, economic development, water and sewer service, and emergency management.

There is also a county educational service center (previously known as the county board of education) presided over by a board of education, typically numbering five members, elected to staggered four-year terms in non-partisan elections in odd-numbered years. The center supplies services to the individual school districts in the county and exercises some limited control over the class of school districts known as "local school districts." ("City school districts" and "exempted village school districts" are free from any oversight by the county board.) Counties also have a board of mental retardation and developmental disabilities to educate disabled children. The members of this board are appointed.

Elections are administered in each county by a four-member board of elections which consists of two Republicans and two Democrats appointed by the Ohio Secretary of State at the recommendation of each county party. The board employs a director, who must be of the opposing political party of the chairman of the board of elections, and a deputy director, who must be of the political party of the chairman of the board.

The county has a court of common pleas, which is the court of first instance for felonies and certain high-value civil cases. All judges in Ohio are elected to six-year terms in non-partisan elections after being nominated in partisan primaries.

See also Ohio county government.

Other elected officers include Dusty Rhodes (auditor), Joe Deters (prosecutor) and Simon L. Leis, Jr. (sheriff).

The county government had a budget (as of 2002) of $ 2.125 billion, debt of $ 1.388 trillion, and 6,249 employees.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,069 km² (413 mi²). 1,055 km² (407 mi²) of it is land and 14 km² (5 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.31% water.

Geographic Features

The county lies in a region of gentle hills formed by the slopes of the Ohio River valley and its tributaries. Besides the Ohio, the Great Miami River, the Little Miami River and the Mill Creek contribute to this system of hillsides and valleys. Some steep hillsides reflect rapid changes in elevation but are usually confined to the nature of one sided hills.

The county boundaries include the lowest point in Ohio, where the Ohio River passes the Indiana border.

Major Highways

Interstate 71, Interstate 74, Interstate 75, Interstate 471 and Interstate 275 serve the county.

Adjacent Counties

Demographics

As of 2000, there are 845,303 people, 346,790 households, and 212,582 families residing in the county. The population density is 801/km² (2,075/mi²). There are 373,393 housing units at an average density of 354/km² (917/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 72.93% White, 23.43% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 1.61% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.51% from other races, and 1.32% from two or more races. 1.13% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 346,790 households out of which 30.20% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.40% are married couples living together, 14.30% have a female householder with no husband present, and 38.70% are non-families. 32.90% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.60% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.38 and the average family size is 3.07.

In the county the population is spread out with 25.80% under the age of 18, 9.60% from 18 to 24, 29.70% from 25 to 44, 21.50% from 45 to 64, and 13.50% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 91.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 86.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county is $40,964, and the median income for a family is $53,449. Males have a median income of $39,842 versus $28,550 for females. The per capita income for the county is $24,053. 11.80% of the population and 8.80% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 16.20% of those under the age of 18 and 8.70% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Municipalities and communities

Cities Villages Census-designated places Townships

† Only partially in Hamilton County

Education

Public elementary and secondary education is provided by a number of independent school districts, supplemented by a county vocational school district. The parochial schools of various denominations add to this base. Among these the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati maintains a system of 108 elementary and 22 secondary schools, the ninth largest private system in the United States.

Colleges and universities

  • Art Academy of Cincinnati
  • Athenaeum of Ohio
  • College of Mount St. Joseph
  • Chatfield College
  • Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science
  • Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
  • God's Bible School and College

Recreation

The county, in cooperation with the city of Cincinnati, operates a public library system with a main library and 41 branches. Major sports teams are listed under the communities in which they are located, primarily Cincinnati. The County Park District maintains a series of preserves and educational facilities. There are three major parks within the system: Miami Whitewater Forest, Winton Woods, and Sharon Woods.

External links

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