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BigDipper 80

Ohio Local Government Structures

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I figured I'd break away this discussion from the Gerrymandering thread so that there'd be a place to discuss the quirks, benefits, and shortcomings of how Ohio's various forms of local governments are laid out, as well as a place for discussing the functions of these different governmental units and how they interact with one another. I've been trying to figure out townships for a while, and I'll start by carrying over a few thoughts from the other thread:

 

I was actually doing a thought experiment re: townships the other day with a friend. Are their any practical benefits to monster townships like West Chester remaining unincorporated beyond the township taxation structure? Not that it would ever get signed into law and there's probably all sorts of other legal issues with this idea, but would there be any good reason to force incorporation of a township if it reaches a certain population or population density?

 

The reason suburban Ohioans like to live in townships is because townships can't have an income tax like cities can. I think this is absurd. Once you have a certain level of population, the local government needs to provide basic services to them, and should incorporate as a city, or be annexed by an adjacent city.

 

Michigan takes it a step further in the wrong direction. They allow townships to incorporate as a "charter township" which prevents them from being annexed by nearby cities.

 

Continuing on and paraphrasing myself, when townships have essentially developed into fully-fledged cities and/or have beneficial population or commercial resources, what's stopping other nearby cities from annexing them? Wouldn't Hamilton want parts of West Chester and Liberty Township, or are the legal/other barriers too high to start grabbing up that land?

 

 


“To an Ohio resident - wherever he lives - some other part of his state seems unreal.”

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I think one thing that stops it is having to annex land that they don't want in order to get land they do want. Since the areas have to be contiguous the city may not want vampiritic land. That's why Columbus and even Cincinnati have so many snaggletoothed boundaries with townships.

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On the subject of contiguous land, how come the Dayton Airport is allowed to be a part of the City of Dayton even though there is no connection via land? I can't think of any other part of Ohio where this kind of exclave exists.

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^Because Dayton invented airplanes so we're just allowed to annex anything aviation related  ;)

 

More seriously, I've wondered this as well. Riverside and Trotwood, both Dayton suburbs, also have weird exclaves completely surrounded by Dayton, but I think that's just a result of the entire township (including all the random "islands" surrounded by Dayton) deciding to incorporate. Which, admittedly, is still weird, and it's also a little weird that it didn't happen to any other townships-turned-cities in Ohio, as far as I'm aware. It would be like the remaining parts of Columbia Township deciding to incorporate despite being made up of 8 small chunks of land scattered around eastern Hamilton County. As far as for the Dayton Airport land, I have yet to see a good explanation for how they managed to pull that off.


“To an Ohio resident - wherever he lives - some other part of his state seems unreal.”

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Cincinnati owned the Blue Ash airport site until recently. Don't know if that means that land was part of the City of Cincinnati, or if it was still the City of Blue Ash, just with the land owner being Cincinnati?

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Cincinnati owned the Blue Ash airport site until recently. Don't know if that means that land was part of the City of Cincinnati, or if it was still the City of Blue Ash, just with the land owner being Cincinnati?

 

It just means the city owned it.  Just like how Cincinnati owns a strip of land over 200 miles long from Ludlow, KY south to Chattanooga. 

 

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Cincinnati owned the Blue Ash airport site until recently. Don't know if that means that land was part of the City of Cincinnati, or if it was still the City of Blue Ash, just with the land owner being Cincinnati?

 

It just means the city owned it.  Just like how Cincinnati owns a strip of land over 200 miles long from Ludlow, KY south to Chattanooga.

 

Rail right of way?

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Cincinnati owned the Blue Ash airport site until recently. Don't know if that means that land was part of the City of Cincinnati, or if it was still the City of Blue Ash, just with the land owner being Cincinnati?

 

It just means the city owned it.  Just like how Cincinnati owns a strip of land over 200 miles long from Ludlow, KY south to Chattanooga.

 

Rail right of way?

 

Yep. It's an interesting tidbit.

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Cincinnati owned the Blue Ash airport site until recently. Don't know if that means that land was part of the City of Cincinnati, or if it was still the City of Blue Ash, just with the land owner being Cincinnati?

 

It just means the city owned it.  Just like how Cincinnati owns a strip of land over 200 miles long from Ludlow, KY south to Chattanooga.

 

But this is different than City of Dayton's situation with their airport?

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Apparently there is a specific loophole regarding municipally owned airports “...that the airport was annexed utilizing a special annexation procedure only available to certain international airports provided for in Ohio Revised Code Section 709.19.”

 

http://www.englewoodindependent.com/top-stories/4811/union-opposes-dayton-annexation

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It looks like Dayton lost that annexation case too. Interesting loophole, for sure. I wonder if Hopkins was a similar situation before the land swap with Brook Park to make the airport contiguous with the city of Cleveland or if it was always just located in Brook Park.


“To an Ohio resident - wherever he lives - some other part of his state seems unreal.”

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I think one thing that stops it is having to annex land that they don't want in order to get land they do want. Since the areas have to be contiguous the city may not want vampiritic land. That's why Columbus and even Cincinnati have so many snaggletoothed boundaries with townships.

 

What's interesting to me is that Columbus played hardball and, as I understand it, said you're not going to get access to our water unless you agree to be annexed. Whereas Cincinnati was happy to sell water from Cincinnati Water Works to surrounding municipalities and unincorporated areas. And many cities in Southwest Ohio are happy to enter into JEDDs with neighboring townships rather than go the annexation route.

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I think one thing that stops it is having to annex land that they don't want in order to get land they do want. Since the areas have to be contiguous the city may not want vampiritic land. That's why Columbus and even Cincinnati have so many snaggletoothed boundaries with townships.

 

What's interesting to me is that Columbus played hardball and, as I understand it, said you're not going to get access to our water unless you agree to be annexed. Whereas Cincinnati was happy to sell water from Cincinnati Water Works to surrounding municipalities and unincorporated areas. And many cities in Southwest Ohio are happy to enter into JEDDs with neighboring townships rather than go the annexation route.

 

There weren't any JEDDs when Columbus was really hot 'n heavy with annexation though. Job poaching wasn't much of a thing since there weren't any good jobs in suburbs at the time. Columbus, Ashville and South Bloomfield have a JEDD for Rickenbacker. Columbus cannot annex any land in the JEDD until 2059.

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https://www.cleveland.com/cityhall/index.ssf/2018/06/cleveland_mayor_frank_jackson_61.html

 

A proposed state law would require Cleveland to charge outer suburbs the same water rates as the city, regardless of delivery cost.  An extremely pro-sprawl bill with a suburban Columbus sponsor.

 

I thought these people understand economics.  This isn't just pro sprawl, they are trying to bankrupt Cleveland water.  Maybe Cleveland should tell outer lying communities to pound salt and get their own water.

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13 hours ago, BigDipper 80 said:

Kenwood, another one of those sneaky Cincinnati townships that no one knows is a township. I wonder if that affects why it hasn't gone vertical as easily, as say, Fake-Hyde-Park (aka Rookwood, aka Norwood). 

 

Kenwood isn't a township though. It is in Sycamore Township. 

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4 minutes ago, DEPACincy said:

 

Kenwood isn't a township though. It is in Sycamore Township. 

That's my point. It's a CDP within Sycamore Township, but it doesn't advertise itself as such. Finneytown and Delhi are the same way. 


“To an Ohio resident - wherever he lives - some other part of his state seems unreal.”

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4 minutes ago, taestell said:

Ahh yes, Sycamore Township and its three noncontiguous chunks of land.

Sycamore Township.png

 

Did townships start appearing during white flight? I'm curious how they even came to be?

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2 minutes ago, troeros said:

 

Did townships start appearing during white flight? I'm curious how they even came to be?

 

No they go back the the Northwest Ordinance of 1787

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www.cincinnatiideas.com

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This brings back another question I've posed before - why can't Deer Park or Madeira just annex Sycamore Township? Or alternatively, why ever even bother to incorporate at all? Make Cincinnati into a township and force the county to pay for everything. 


“To an Ohio resident - wherever he lives - some other part of his state seems unreal.”

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2 hours ago, BigDipper 80 said:

That's my point. It's a CDP within Sycamore Township, but it doesn't advertise itself as such. Finneytown and Delhi are the same way. 

 

Gotcha. I misunderstood your post. 

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5 minutes ago, BigDipper 80 said:

This brings back another question I've posed before - why can't Deer Park or Madeira just annex Sycamore Township? Or alternatively, why ever even bother to incorporate at all? Make Cincinnati into a township and force the county to pay for everything. 

 

Much of the City of Cincinnati was Mill Creek Township at one point. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mill_Creek_Township,_Hamilton_County,_Ohio

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Just speculation here, but I would guess who ever owns the Kenwood town center enjoys being in a township over a city proper.  If they wanted to be part of Madeira, or if they wanted Kenwood to be its own city, they could probably make that happen.

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1 hour ago, Chas Wiederhold said:

Townships work pretty well for rural Ohio where the municipal areas are the anomalies. They are Tea Party havens for suburban Ohio. They seem to be nuisances in urban Ohio. 

 

Townships work fine for sparely populated rural areas, but they were never intended to be a permanent form of government for areas where large numbers of people live. Traditionally, cities would start annexing up parts of townships that developed, or the entire township itself would incorporate as a municipality (city or village). However today, many townships resist annexation which results in these little township pockets that are left over in between other municipalities. After all--townships don't have an income tax and they get free sheriff's patrols from the county so they don't have to pay for their own police department (in other words, residents of Cincinnati and Blue Ash and other cities/villages are paying for their own police departments, and also subsidizing the police patrols for the townships). My hope is that someday Ohio will have a governor that will see how wasteful this setup is, and will start an effort to dissolve townships in the urbanized counties. The townships would have to either incorporate as their own municipality (which would make sense for intact townships like West Chester) or be absorbed into surrounding cities/villages (which would make sense for chopped-up townships like Sycamore).

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8 hours ago, BigDipper 80 said:

This brings back another question I've posed before - why can't Deer Park or Madeira just annex Sycamore Township? Or alternatively, why ever even bother to incorporate at all? Make Cincinnati into a township and force the county to pay for everything. 

 

Most township residents and property owners live/own where they do on purpose, and they don't want to be annexed. Kenwood Towne Center, especially, wouldn't want to be annexed by a municipality because all of their tenants would suddenly be on the hook for income tax to that municipality. A conniving municipality could even go so far as to eliminate reciprocity in order to really pave the streets with gold.

 

All other things aside, if you can score a job in a township and find a place to live in a township (especially a centrally located one like Sycamore Township) you can essentially take home 1-2% more income than if you lived in Cincinnati or another municipality, while sacrificing next to nothing.

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^It depends on the municipality of work and living though.

 

Right now I am moving to Washington Township, Montgomery County. My property tax rate will be 2.17%, and income tax will be 0%.

IF I have moved to the city of Middletown instead, my property tax rate would only be 1.5% but income tax would be 1.75%

 

Because I work in a city that taxes the full 2.5% allowed by the state of Ohio in income tax, none of my tax revenue, no matter where I go, would be shared with the municipality where I live.

Because of this, it actually would have been cheaper for me to live in a city like Middletown than a township like Washington Township.

 

So it is very circumstantial. Worth considering the numbers, sure, but given the number of people that work in cities in Sycamore Township, the only thing it would do is add tax to the businesses there, aside from adding a tax to a few people that work at Kenwood Mall that live in Sycamore township or another township.

 

Normally cities incentivize annexation by withholding city services like water, sewer, etc. to new properties, unless those properties conform to annexation.

But because those services are already there, annexation is harder to do, but not impossible. For the case of a disjointed township like Sycamore Township, it's hard to see a reason for its existence.

Edited by SWOH

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54 minutes ago, Ram23 said:

All other things aside, if you can score a job in a township and find a place to live in a township (especially a centrally located one like Sycamore Township) you can essentially take home 1-2% more income than if you lived in Cincinnati or another municipality, while sacrificing next to nothing.

 

Ohio does not withhold municipal earnings tax, unlike every other state that permits them.  This means it's the task of the cities themselves to get the tax revenue that its citizens earn in unincorporated areas, and business owners can instruct their HR people to not automatically withhold municipal tax.  They then role the dice on whether the city of their residence comes after them, and if they do, those cities don't have the tools of the IRS or the Ohio Dept of Taxation.  In short, they can't garnish your wages or seemingly take you to court.  Even the City of Cincinnati seems powerless to force people to pay the tax.  

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13 hours ago, Ram23 said:

All other things aside, if you can score a job in a township and find a place to live in a township (especially a centrally located one like Sycamore Township) you can essentially take home 1-2% more income than if you lived in Cincinnati or another municipality, while sacrificing next to nothing.

 

And that's exactly the "freeloader" loophole our state legislature should be working to eliminate.

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It's the same way that Deerfield Township gets almost all of the benefits of living in Mason without paying for the school district, police, etc. It's insane that this type of governance is allowed. But it's not surprising considering all of the richest, most powerful people in the metro area (and state) have used these tax loopholes to protect their wealth at the detriment to everyone else. Notice that many of the politicians in the statehouse live in townships, even when they represent urban areas. They aren't going to mess up their tax shelters.

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15 hours ago, Ram23 said:

All other things aside, if you can score a job in a township and find a place to live in a township (especially a centrally located one like Sycamore Township) you can essentially take home 1-2% more income than if you lived in Cincinnati or another municipality, while sacrificing next to nothing.

 

All to the detriment of our community and society as whole. 

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7 hours ago, taestell said:

And that's exactly the "freeloader" loophole our state legislature should be working to eliminate.

 

Speaking in a broad generalization here - I wouldn't say those who live and work in townships are freeloading so much as they're avoiding picking up the tab for those who are.

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21 minutes ago, Ram23 said:

 

Speaking in a broad generalization here - I wouldn't say those who live and work in townships are freeloading so much as they're avoiding picking up the tab for those who are.

 

Isn't that the definition of freeloading?

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Cities, as a corporate entity, should have priority over unincorporated areas and should be allowed to make a relatively easy annexation attempt. If a township doesn't want to get annexed, they can incorporate (as Trotwood, Kettering and Riverside all did), but being a "de facto city" but still being a township wasn't the purpose of townships to begin with.

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“To an Ohio resident - wherever he lives - some other part of his state seems unreal.”

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