Townships are administrative units of state government whose original purpose was to facilitate the survey and sale of land. The responsibilities of townships vary greatly depending upon the degree of urbanization. Some townships are densely populated and have major urban problems, while others are mostly farm land with associated problems.
The Township Trustees are in charge of carrying out the legislative authority that the Ohio Revised Code Section 505 through 505.94 allows them to do. This gives them authority to take care of the Township Roads by snow removal , mowing grass along the sides, and to do patchwork and paving, to provide Police and Fire protection to the community, establish Parks and set rules for them, establish zoning rules and regulations and see that they are administered as they want it to be, manage and oversee all policies and rules that they set forth as well as those already set forth in the legislative authority given to them in the Ohio Revised Code.
Township Trustees appoint/hire the various department heads to administer the daily duties of their departments, they set policies for all employees to follow and combine them with the laws mandated by the Ohio Revised Code.
Townships were the “first form of local government” in Ohio and were plotted according to a basic policy for the survey and sale of public lands. With the formation of the Ohio Territory under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, thirty six square miles of township were used as the primary means of establishing local civil governments in the territory. Since the adoption of the 1851 Ohio Constitution, the basic form of township government has remained relatively unchanged. Governed by three elected Trustees to be their executive officers serving four-year terms. A Board of Township Trustees is the legislative authority and also fulfills many executive responsibilities as well. A fourth elected official, Township Fiscal Officer, administrative body is independent of the Trustees, yet by law must work closely with the Trustees. There are over 1,300 townships in Ohio today, some are large some are small with varied populations.
The legislative authority provides for larger townships to be able to appoint/hire an administrator to help assist the Township Trustees. This administrator will carry out the duties that have been given to the Trustees both through legislation as well as what they have set themselves.
The Township Trustee wears many hats during their term in office, and deals with many more issues than is mentioned in the Ohio Revised Code.
Hamilton Township is a Home Rule Township and therefore is allowed to set ordinances, have a full-time Police and Fire Chief, and a legal counsel separate from the County Prosecutor; However even a Home Rule Township must follow the laws that have been set for them in legislation and cannot change them or set rules and ordinances that would conflict with them.
Home Rule has given townships some extended authority that allows township’s that have adopted it to provide services very close to those that a village or city are allowed to and yet they have to incorporate the rules according to the previous laws set by legislation in many areas.
Township Government is still Grass Roots Government that is closest to it’s people.