A civil township is a widely used unit of local government in the United States, subordinate to a county. The term town is used in New England, New York, and Wisconsin to refer to the equivalent of the civil township in these states. Specific responsibilities and the degree of autonomy vary based on each state. Civil townships are distinct from survey townships, but in states that have both, the boundaries often coincide and may completely geographically subdivide a county. The U.S. Census Bureau classifies civil townships as minor civil divisions. Currently, there are 20 states with civil townships.
Township functions are generally overseen by a governing board (the name varies from state to state) and a clerk or trustee. Township officers frequently include justice of the peace, road commissioner, assessor, constable, and surveyor. In the 20th century many townships also added a township administrator or supervisor to the officers as an executive for the board. In some cases townships run local libraries, senior citizen services, youth services, disabled citizen services, emergency assistance, and even cemetery services.
==Midwestern, central, and western states==
Depending on the state, the township government has varying degrees of authority.
In the Upper Midwestern states near the Great Lakes, civil townships (known in Michigan as general law townships and in Wisconsin as towns), are often, but not always, overlaid on survey townships. The degree to which these townships are functioning governmental entities varies from state to state and in some cases even within a state.
Civil townships in these states are generally not incorporated, and nearby cities may annex land in adjoining townships with relative ease. In Michigan, general law townships can incorporate as charter townships, a status intended to protect against annexation from nearby municipalities and which grants the township some home rule powers similar to cities. In Wisconsin, civil townships are known as "towns" rather than townships, but they function essentially the same as in neighboring states. In Minnesota, state statute refers to such entities as towns yet requires them to have a name in the form "''Name'' Township". In both documents and conversation, "town" and "township" are used interchangeably. Minnesota townships can be either Non-Urban or Urban (giving the township government greater power), but this is not reflected in the township's name.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Minnesota Statutes 368.01: Powers of Certain Metropolitan Area Towns )〕 In Ohio, a city or village is overlaid onto a township unless it withdraws by establishing a paper township. Where the paper township does not extend to the city limits, property owners pay taxes for both the township and municipality. Ten other states also allow townships and municipalities to overlap.
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