In Illinois, counties, townships, taxing districts, and municipalities are distinct units of local government, each with specific functions and responsibilities. Here’s an overview of their differences and relationships:

  • Counties:
    • Counties are the largest political subdivisions in Illinois.
    • Each county has its own elected county officials, such as a County Board, State’s Attorney, Sheriff, Treasurer, and Clerk.
    • Counties are responsible for providing regional services like law enforcement, public health, court administration, and property assessment.
    • They may have unincorporated areas that are not part of any municipality.
  • Townships:
    • Townships are smaller units of local government within counties.
    • They often exist in rural or suburban areas and are responsible for providing specific local services.
    • Common township services include general assistance, property assessment, road maintenance, and sometimes public health services.
    • Townships are governed by elected officials, including a Township Supervisor and Board of Trustees.
  • Municipalities:
    • Municipalities are incorporated cities, villages, and towns that have their own local government.
    • They are governed by elected officials, including a Mayor or Village President and a City Council or Board of Trustees.
    • Municipalities have authority over local ordinances, zoning, public safety, and other services within their boundaries.
    • Examples include cities like Dixon, Byron, Rochelle and Oregon, villages like Mount Morris and Forreston. There are no towns in Ogle or Lee because the Law changed in Illinois back in the 1800s and it’s no longer an option.
  • Taxing Districts:
    • Taxing districts are entities with the authority to levy taxes for specific purposes, such as school districts, park districts, library districts, and fire protection districts.
    • These districts have elected boards that oversee their operations and funding.


  • Townships are generally subdivisions within counties, and their boundaries often align with county lines.
  • Municipalities can exist within townships, and their boundaries may or may not align with township boundaries.
  • Counties provide overarching services to all municipalities, townships, and taxing districts within their jurisdiction.
  • Taxing districts may overlap with municipalities or townships and provide specific services funded through levied taxes.

In summary, Illinois has a complex system of local government with counties as the largest entities, municipalities as incorporated cities or villages, townships providing local services, and taxing districts focused on specific purposes. Each level serves distinct functions, and their relationships involve coordination and cooperation for effective governance and service delivery.