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Administrative divisions of Illinois facts for kids

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The administrative divisions of Illinois are counties, townships, precincts, cities, towns, villages, and special-purpose districts. The basic subdivisions of Illinois are the 102 counties. Illinois has more units of local government than any other state—over 8,000 in all. 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. 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. Illinois counties, townships, cities, and villages may also promulgate local ordinances.


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

Townships and precincts

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


Municipal governments are the cities, villages, and incorporated towns. 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. Municipalities having a population above 25,000 automatically have home rule status, whereas smaller municipalities have the option via referendums.

Special districts

Another common political unit is the library district. Library districts are run by library boards; such boards are elected bodies and have the power to levy taxes in their district. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Sanitary districts handle wastewater and sewage. 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. Each authority is governed by a board of commissioners that is appointed by municipal, county, or state officials. 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. 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. 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. Each authority is governed by a board composed of an equal number of members from each party state and may include a federal representative. The budget is allocated to the participating governments, and the authorities may issue bonds. 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. The authority may set rents, rates, and fees and issue bonds. Joint airport commissions may be created by agreement between a park district and a county or municipality.

Conservation districts are established to conserve open spaces for recreational purposes. 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. 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. District boards may charge fees, levy property taxes, and with voter approval, issue bonds.

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

  • Addison Creek Restoration Commission
  • Bi-State Metropolitan Development District
  • Cemetery maintenance districts
  • Chicago Transit Authority
  • Civic center authorities
  • County historical museum districts
  • County water commissions, governed by the Water Commission Act of 1985
  • Drainage districts
  • EastSide Centre
  • Exposition authorities and councils
  • Fire protection districts
  • Fox Waterway Agency
  • Hospital districts
  • Housing authorities, such as the Chicago Housing Authority
  • Joint water commissions and joint water and sewer commissions
  • Metra Commuter Rail Board
  • Metro East Solid Waste Disposal and Energy Producing Service
  • Mosquito abatement districts
  • Municipal joint action agencies
  • Municipal power agencies and municipal natural gas agencies
  • Municipal zoo authorities
  • Museum districts
  • Pace Suburban Bus Board
  • Park districts
  • Port and regional port districts
  • Prairie Trail Authority
  • Public building commissions
  • Quad Cities Interstate Metropolitan Authority
  • Railroad relocation authorities
  • Regional Transportation Authority
  • Rescue squad districts
  • River conservancy districts
  • School Finance Authority
  • Soil and water conservation districts
  • Solid waste disposal districts
  • Special recreation associations
  • Street lighting districts
  • Surface water protection districts
  • Township hospital boards
  • Transit districts
  • Transportation service associations
  • Tuberculosis sanitarium districts
  • Water supply districts
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Administrative divisions of Illinois Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.