Administrative divisions of Illinois

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The administrative divisions of Illinois are counties, townships, precincts, cities, towns, villages, and special-purpose districts.[1] The basic subdivisions of Illinois are the 102 counties.[2] Illinois has more units of local government than any other state—over 8,000 in all.[3] The Constitution of 1970 created, for the first time in Illinois, a type of "home rule", which allows localities to govern themselves to a certain extent.[4] Illinois also has several types of school districts and additional units of government that oversee many other functions.

Property taxes are a major source of tax revenue for local government taxing districts. The property tax is a local tax, imposed by counties, townships, municipalities, school districts, and special taxation districts. The property tax in Illinois is imposed only on real property.[5][6][7] Illinois counties, townships, cities, and villages may also promulgate local ordinances.[8]


The basic subdivisions of Illinois are the 102 counties.[2] Cook County is the only home rule county.[9]

Townships and precincts[edit]

Of the 102 counties, 85 are divided into townships.[2] Of these counties, only Chicago is not within a township.[2] Cicero is within a township but both its township and municipal governments are carried out by the same governing body.[2] The remaining 17 counties are divided into 261 precincts, instead of townships.[10]


Municipal governments are the cities, villages, and incorporated towns.[2] The minimum size for incorporation as a city is 2,500, and the minimum size for incorporation as a village varies by the county population.[2] Municipalities having a population above 25,000 automatically have home rule status, whereas smaller municipalities have the option via referendums.[2]

School districts[edit]

Illinois has several types of school districts:[2]

Elected boards of education govern these districts, except for the Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago, for which the boards are appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the Chicago City Council, and the special charter districts, which may have elected or appointed boards.[2]

Area vocational centers and special education cooperatives may be formed by joint agreement between two or more school districts.[2] A board consisting of representatives of each participating school district governs each entity of these two types.[2]

Educational service regions replaced the former county school units administered by county superintendents.[2] Each region originally served one county but now may serve multiple counties because of minimum population requirements.[2] Each region is headed by a regional superintendent of schools and is also governed by a regional board of trustees; the latter deal primarily with district boundary changes.[2]

Township land commissioners manage school lands and funds in certain counties.[2]

Educational service centers are established by the state board of education and function primarily to coordinate and provide special and ordinary services to affiliated school districts.[11] These service centers are governed by boards consisting of members appointed by the regional superintendent.[11]

Special districts[edit]

Another common political unit is the library district.[12][13] Library districts are run by library boards; such boards are elected bodies and have the power to levy taxes in their district.[14][13] Library boards in some districts are elected at the general election, but in other districts may be held in conjunction with local elections, or even, as stand-alone elections.[15] The districts are established by the circuit court judge upon petition of either voters or the board of a local tax supported library and after hearing and referendum.[13] The boundaries of these library districts occasionally coincide with those of another governmental entity, such as a township, but more often, they are set independently. Library systems that serve ten or more public libraries or that consist of a single public library serving a city of more than 500,000 in population may be created upon approval of the board of directors of the participating libraries and the approval of the state librarian.[13] Library systems are governed by a board of five to fifteen directors selected by member libraries, except the board of a public library serving a city of more than 500,000 in population serves as the board.[13]

Sanitary districts handle wastewater and sewage.[16][17] The largest of the sanitary districts in the state is the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, which oversaw the reversal of the course of the Chicago River.

Airport authorities are created by the circuit court judge upon voter petition and after hearing and referendum.[11] Each authority is governed by a board of commissioners that is appointed by municipal, county, or state officials.[11] The authority boards may levy property taxes, fix rates and fees, and issue bonds, but bonds exceeding 0.75% of assessed value require voter approval.[11] Similar provisions apply to metropolitan airport authorities established by state law in counties with populations of between 600,000 and 3,000,000 and contiguous to a county with a population of more than 1,000,000.[11] Interstate airport authorities may be created by joint agreement between two or more local governments in Illinois and any governmental body of any adjoining state.[11] Each authority is governed by a board composed of an equal number of members from each party state and may include a federal representative.[11] The budget is allocated to the participating governments, and the authorities may issue bonds.[11] The Kankakee River Valley Area Airport Authority was established under a special act. The authority is governed by a board appointed by the governing bodies of Kankakee and Will counties.[11] The authority may set rents, rates, and fees and issue bonds.[11] Joint airport commissions may be created by agreement between a park district and a county or municipality.[11]

Conservation districts are established to conserve open spaces for recreational purposes.[18] They are created upon voter petition to the circuit court of a county with fewer than 1,000,000 in population and having no forest preserve; or upon petition of voters from not more than five counties with no forest preserve, followed by referendum.[18] The district board of trustees is appointed by the chairpersons of the county governing bodies in the district with the consent of the county governing bodies.[18] District boards may charge fees, levy property taxes, and with voter approval, issue bonds.[18]

There are additional units of government that oversee watersheds, land use, and many other functions:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Census 2007, pp. 89-97.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Census 2007, p. 89.
  3. ^ "Local Government Division Brochure". Illinois Comptroller. March 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  4. ^ Gove 1996, pp. 155-156.
  5. ^ Nelson, Ronald E. (ed.), ed. (1978). Illinois: Land and Life in the Prairie State. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt. ISBN 0-8403-1831-6. 
  6. ^ Biles, Roger (2005). Illinois: A History of the Land and its People. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press. ISBN 0-87580-349-0. 
  7. ^ Horsley, A. Doyne (1986). Illinois: A Geography. Boulder: Westview Press. ISBN 0-86531-522-1. 
  8. ^ Gaylord, Tom (March 2007). "Finding Illinois Municipal Ordinances Online". Illinois Bar Journal 95 (3): 156. 
  9. ^ Gove 1996, p. 156.
  10. ^ Illinois Regional Archives Depository System. "Name Index to Illinois Local Governments". Illinois State Archives. Illinois Secretary of State. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Census 2007, p. 90.
  12. ^ "Illinois Library Districts". Retrieved February 15, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Census 2007, p. 94.
  14. ^ "Public Library District Handbook". Lewis & Clark Library System. December 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  15. ^ Woodstock Public Library (November 8, 2011). "Rural Woodstock Public Library District". Woodstock Public Library. Retrieved February 15, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Welcome to the Illinois Association of Wastewater Agencies Website". Retrieved February 15, 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f Census 2007, p. 95.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h Census 2007, p. 91.
  19. ^ Census 2007, pp. 90-91.
  20. ^ 70 ILCS 3720
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h Census 2007, p. 92.
  22. ^ Census 2007, pp. 92-93.
  23. ^ a b c d e f Census 2007, p. 93.
  24. ^ Census 2007, pp. 93-94.
  25. ^ Census 2007, pp. 94-95.
  26. ^ a b c d e Census 2007, p. 96.
  27. ^ Census 2007, pp. 96-97.