Paper township

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A paper township is a type of civil township under Ohio law that does not act as a functioning unit of civil government. Such townships usually exist due to annexation by cities and villages.

Defunct townships

Cities and villages in Ohio, which all sprang from townships, are allowed to continue to exist above townships. Once the territory of a township is completely enveloped by cities and villages, the township government ceases to function under ORC 703.22. Rumps of townships can be left to function in the event a city or village does not completely envelop the township, such as the relationship between Ashtabula County's Ashtabula Township and Ashtabula City.

Sometimes an entire township has been incorporated under a different name, such as Van Buren Township in Montgomery County, which became the City of Kettering in 1955. Probably the best known of these paper townships is Mill Creek Township in south-central Hamilton County, which was absorbed by the City of Cincinnati in the nineteenth century.

Townships can exist nominally in rump form but have no government. In about 1980, Wayne Township in Montgomery County was re-incorporated as the city of Huber Heights. However, a small portion of Wayne Township — east of State Route 4 and south of State Route 235 — was part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and could not be incorporated into the city of Huber Heights. Thus, that portion of Wayne Township, which is part of the Air Force Base, still nominally exists, but it has no local government.

Legal fictions

Another kind of paper township allows a city or village to become completely independent of the real township from which it was created. Usually coextensive with the municipality, it prevents property owners within city limits from voting in both city and township elections but also relieves them of having to pay property taxes to both governments.[1] According to Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Deters, upon its creation, the paper township "will effectively never exist because its offices would be immediately abolished under Ohio Revised Code Section 703.22 when it is created."[2]

A municipality that spans multiple counties, such as Loveland, may withdraw from each of its townships. However, no township may span county lines; therefore, multiple paper townships must be erected in order for the municipality to completely withdraw. When the municipality annexes additional land, township boundaries must be explicitly adjusted to reflect the change.[1][3]

The township does not have to share the municipality's name. For example:

  • Louisville's Constitution Township is named after the city's nickname.
  • Fairfield's two paper townships were named Heritage by the county commissioners of Butler and Hamilton counties because Butler County already had a Fairfield Township – the one from which Fairfield withdrew.[2]
  • Canal Fulton's Milan Township is named after one of two villages that Canal Fulton annexed in the 1850s.[4][5]

Under 1953 case law, a paper township may not be considered an adjoining township for the purpose of dissolving a township.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Houck, Jeanne (2010-12-03). "Loveland heads off double taxation". The Loveland Herald. Loveland, Ohio: The Community Press. Retrieved 2010-12-05. Here's how Loveland City Manager Tom Carroll defines a 'paper' township: 'A paper township is common for villages and cities, and it is a legal mechanism to remove property annexed into a city from the township in which it was originally situated...'<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Deters, Joseph T. (December 13, 1994). "Letter to Hamilton County Board of Commissioners" (PDF). Retrieved November 3, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Prince, Charles (February 12, 2011). "Trustee questions fairness of dual taxation". The Buckeye Lake Beacon. Retrieved September 16, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Harbaugh, Richard. "Mayor's Fall Newlestter Article". City of Canal Fulton. Retrieved September 16, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "History". City of Canal Fulton. Retrieved September 16, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Liebler, Kym; Albert, Tanya (May 12, 1998). "If township ends, what happens?". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Gannett Company. Retrieved September 17, 2013. But based on a quick review, Mason likely would not be able to absorb Deerfield Township if it were dissolved, said Cheryl Subler, policy analyst for the County Commissioner Association of Ohio. According to 1953 case law, a paper township 'may not be considered an adjoining township,' she said.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>