In United States local government, a consolidated city-county is a city and county that have been merged into one unified jurisdiction. As such it is simultaneously a city, which is a municipal corporation, and a county, which is an administrative division of a state. It has the powers and responsibilities of both types of entities.

A consolidated city-county is different from an independent city, although the latter may result from consolidation of a city and a county and may also have the same powers as a consolidated city-county. An independent city is a city not deemed by its state to be located within the boundary of any county, and recognized by its state as a legal territorial entity separate from surrounding or adjoining counties. Not considering Hawaii, which has no independent cities, the Midwest and Upper South have the highest concentration of large consolidated city-county governments in the United States, including Indianapolis, Indiana; Nashville, Tennessee; Jacksonville, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; Kansas City, Kansas; and Lexington, Kentucky. Currently, the largest consolidated city-county in the United States is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


According to information compiled by former Albuquerque mayor David Rusk, 105 referendums were held in the United States between 1902 and 2010 to consider proposals to consolidate cities and counties. Only 27 of these proposals were approved by voters.[1]

Wyandotte County, Kansas, uses the term "unified government" to refer to its consolidation with Kansas City, Kansas, and most of the towns within the county boundaries in which some cities and towns remain separate jurisdictions within the county. Individual sections of a metropolitan or regional municipality may retain some autonomous jurisdiction apart from the city-wide government.

Often, in place of another level of government, local governments form councils of governments – essentially governmental organizations which are not empowered with any law-making or law enforcement powers. This is the case in the Atlanta metropolitan area, where the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) studies and makes recommendations on the impact of all major construction and development projects on the region, but generally cannot stop them. The Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) is a true government agency of the state of Georgia, and does control some state transportation monies to the cities and counties, but otherwise has very little authority beyond this small power of the purse.

The case of New York City is unique, in that the city consists of five boroughs, each of which is co-extensive with a county. Each borough, being coterminous with a county, has its own district attorney; however, county-level government is essentially non-existent as all executive and legislative power is exercised by the city government throughout the five boroughs. The city, as currently constituted, was created in 1898 when the city of New York (then comprising what would become the boroughs of Manhattan and The Bronx) annexed Kings County, Queens County, and Richmond County as the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, respectively.

Similar arrangements also exist in other countries. England has six "metropolitan counties" created in 1974: Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands, and West Yorkshire. From 1986, these metropolitan counties do not have county councils but rather joint boards for certain functions. Modern unitary authorities are similar, and are known as county boroughs in Wales. In Scotland, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow are functionally "independent cities", though the term is not used.

In the Canadian province of Ontario, there exist several single-tier municipalities which serve the same sort of functions as American consolidated city-counties. One example of this is the City of Toronto, which was created in 1998 from the amalgamation of the central government and the six constituent municipalities of the Metropolitan Municipality of Toronto (a type of regional municipality) which was originally created in 1954.

In Germany, Berlin, Bremen, and Hamburg are both cities and states. Nearly every larger city in Germany is a consolidated city-county, like Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich or Dresden; Austria, where the capital of Vienna is both a city and state; France, where the capital city of Paris has been coterminous with the département of Paris since 1968; and South Korea, where Seoul is a special city, while six other cities (Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju, Incheon, and Ulsan) are metropolitan cities. Additionally, the Australian Capital Territory government in Australia performs all municipal functions of the city of Canberra, and thus functions as an integrated city-territory. Similarly, the City of Tokyo merged with the prefecture to form Tokyo metropolis in 1943.


In seven consolidated city-county governments in the United States, the formerly independent incorporated places maintain some governmental powers. In these cities, which the Bureau of the Census calls "consolidated cities", statistics are recorded both for the entire consolidated government and for the component municipalities. A part of the consolidated government is called the "balance", which the Census Bureau defines as "the consolidated city minus the semi-independent incorporated places located within the consolidated city".[2]

These consolidated cities are:[2]

List of consolidated city-counties[]

Consolidated since their creation[]



Merged with some independent municipalities[]

  • Athens and Clarke County, Georgia (one community entirely within Clarke County and another partially within the county retain a separate government)
  • Augusta and Richmond County, Georgia (two communities within Richmond County retain separate governments)
  • Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana (City of Baton Rouge retains separate city limits, and official census population only includes this area)
  • Camden County, North Carolina (county with no incorporated municipalities, apart from a small portion of Elizabeth City, re-organizing into a single unified government)[14]
  • Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana[15] (four communities within Marion County retain separate governments: see Unigov)
  • Jacksonville and Duval County, Florida (four incorporated places within Duval County - the cities of Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, and Atlantic Beach and the town of Baldwin - retain separate governments; all other rural land is incorporated by Jacksonville and so the entire county is incorporated)
  • Kansas City and Wyandotte County, Kansas (this "Unified Government" contains Kansas City, Edwardsville, most of Bonner Springs, and roughly half of Lake Quivira; a county relationship is maintained with the rest of the communities within the county) as of 1997.
  • Macon and Bibb County, Georgia, to be completed January 2014. In 2012, the Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 1171, which authorizes a referendum on July 31, 2012 on the consolidation of the two entities; the referendum passed.[16] Four previous consolidation attempts (in 1933, 1960, 1972, and 1976) failed.[12][17][18] The consolidated government, however, excludes the small municipality of Payne City, which was already surrounded by Macon prior to consolidation.[19]
  • Miami and Miami-Dade County, Florida operate under a federated two-tier government similar to consolidated city-county relationship where the county government operates as a superseding entity of county affairs and lower-tier incorporated municipalities operate civil and community services
  • Lafayette Parish, Louisiana and Lafayette (The status of the current state of consolidation is under review by an independent board. Deconsolidation, reorganization and total incorporation are all being considered as other towns in the parish as well as citizens in the unincorporated areas feel they are being under-represented under the current state of consolidation.)
  • Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky[20] (all cities in pre-merger Jefferson County, other than Louisville, retain separate identities and some governmental functions, but all participate fully in the county-wide governing body, Louisville Metro Council)
  • Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee (seven—six as of 2012—communities within Davidson County retain separate governments, although all participate in the metropolitan government in a two-tier system)
  • Tribune, Kansas and Greeley County, Kansas (Horace retaining a separate government)[21]

Five cities in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia were formed by the consolidation of a city with a county: Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach (from Norfolk, Elizabeth City, Warwick, Nansemond, and Princess Anne counties, respectively). However, in each case an independent city was created and as such they are not consolidated city-counties. Instead, the Code of Virginia uses the term "consolidated city."[22] Similarly, Carson City was consolidated with Ormsby County, Nevada in 1969, but the county was simultaneously dissolved. The city is now a municipality independent of any county.

Potentially consolidated[]

  • Aurora, Colorado, split between three counties, explored the creation of a new consolidated city-county in 1996; the effort subsequently failed in a referendum. However, five years later nearby Broomfield was successful in creating a new city-county from portions of the four counties it had been a part of. Encouraged by Broomfield's experience, an Aurora city councilman has proposed consolidation again in 2006.[23] This was not accomplished in the 2006 or 2007, and no bills to accomplish consolidation were introduced in the 2008 session of the Colorado legislature.
  • A proposal has been made to merge Johnson County, Kansas and Wyandotte County, Kansas and the cities located in those two into a single consolidated city-county, name to be determined.[24]
  • In 2005, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio published a series of articles exploring the possibility of the city's merging with Cuyahoga County.[25]
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida provides city-level police, fire-rescue, sanitation, and other services to many of the municipalities within its borders.
  • A report was released in April 2008 recommending the merger of the governments of the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and that of Allegheny County. This plan has been endorsed by the mayor of Pittsburgh and the Chief Executive of Allegheny County, but needs approval by the City and County councils and from the state legislature before a referendum can be put forth for the voters to approve such a merger.
  • The independent City of St. Louis, Missouri and that of St. Louis County. The city of St. Louis seceded from St. Louis County in the 1870s and is not part of any county in the state of Missouri. The city has since tried to rejoin the county several times, each time rejected by county voters.[26]

Considered consolidation[]

Formerly consolidated[]

  • The City of Boston and Suffolk County, Massachusetts operated with a consolidated government for most of the twentieth century with Boston providing office space, auditors, budget, personnel and financial oversight for Suffolk County. This was not a true consolidation because three municipalities – Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop – were never annexed into Boston and remained separate jurisdictions within Suffolk County; however, the City of Boston held complete control of the county by law. The special relationship between Boston and Suffolk County ended in 1999 as part of the gradual abolition of county governments through much of the state with all county employees and powers transferred to Commonwealth of Massachusetts control. The only remaining powers and duties for the City of Boston in regards to the county is ceremonial in which the Suffolk County Register of Deeds is issued the oath of office at the start of a term as well as calls for a meeting to hold a special election to fill the office should there be a failure to elect someone to the office or a vacancy occurs.

See also[]


  1. ^ Kate Linebaugh, Threats to Town Halls Stir Voter Backlash, The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2011
  2. ^ a b Population Estimates Geography, United States Census Bureau, 2006-06-19. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
  3. ^ Website of the Municipality of Anchorage
  4. ^ a b "Colorado Municipal Incorporations". State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Colorado State Archives. December 1, 2004. Retrieved November 24, 2006. 
  5. ^ Website of the City and County of Broomfield
  6. ^ Website of the County of Honolulu
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Website of the Community of Anaconda
  9. ^ a b "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 
  10. ^ Website of Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government
  11. ^ Website of Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z City-County Consolidation Proposals, 1921 - Present, National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-02-11.
  13. ^ Official New York City Website
  14. ^ Camden County Government - Board of Commissioners - February 10, 2006
  15. ^ Website of Indianapolis and Marion County, Indiana
  16. ^ "HB 1171 - Macon-Bibb County; create and incorporate new political body corporate". 
  17. ^ The Effects on City-County Consolidation
  18. ^ a b c d e Consolidation pass for Macon and Bibb county in the 2012 vote.CONSOLIDATION OF CITY AND COUNTY GOVERNMENTS: ATTEMPTS IN FIVE CITIES. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  19. ^ "Payne City merger dead for 2013". The Macon Telegraph. February 27, 2013. Retrieved August 10, 2013. 
  20. ^ Website of Louisville Metro Government
  21. ^
  22. ^ Virginia Code § 15.2-3521
  23. ^ City and County of Aurora? by J.C. O'Connell. The Aurora Daily Sun & Sentinel, January 30, 2006.
  24. ^ Johnson-Wyandotte merger? by Jesse Truesdale. The [Bonner Springs] Chieftain, February 2, 2006.
  25. ^ A Region Divided. Special series of The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, published throughout 2005.
  26. ^ St. Louis Five-Year Consolidated Plan Strategy 2006-2010
  27. ^ a b c d e f "Some Major City-County Consolidation Referenda in the 20th Century". 
  28. ^ One Buffalo
  29. ^
  30. ^ a b NCSU Innovation Online, by Diane Cherry
  31. ^ Both sides say Evansville-Vanderburgh County merger is possible, by Thomas B. Langhorne. Indiana Economic Digest, February 13, 2006
  32. ^ 79(R) SJR 9 in the Texas State Legislature
  33. ^
  34. ^ Langhorne, Thomas B. (November 6, 2012). "UPDATE: Voters resoundingly reject proposal to merge Evansville, Vanderburgh County governments". Evansville Courier & Press. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  35. ^ Alaska Division of Community Advocacy
  36. ^ "Voters reject metro government in Lincoln Co.". WATE. 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  37. ^ Debate stirs on consolidation, by Benjamin Lanka. The [Fort Wayne] Journal Gazette, March 5, 2006.
  38. ^ Kirby, Cassondra (November 3, 2004). "Article: Voters in Franklin and Frankfort counties, Ky., reject government merger.". AccessMyLibrary. Lexington, KY: Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 8 June 2010. 
  39. ^ Microsoft Word - All CONSLDLS 2006bev _3_.doc
  40. ^ Business Backs Consolidated Government, by Kate Miller. Memphis Business Journal, March 15, 2002.
  41. ^ Consolidation: Memphis suburbs' rejection of merger 'loud and clear'
  42. ^ Muncie & Delaware County Reorganization Committee
  43. ^ City of Orlando / Orange County Consolidation of Services Study Commission
  44. ^ "Paducah, McCracken County residents reject metro merger". The Henderson Gleaner. Associated Press (Henderson, Kentucky). November 7, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2013. 
  45. ^
  46. ^ Town Meeting: Louisville mayor offers primer on uniting city-county government, By Jeffrey Cohan. Pittsburgh Post Gazette, October 1, 2004.
  47. ^ Skepticism greets ‘Unigov’ summit, by Tom Troy. The Toledo Blade, March 4, 2004.
  48. ^ Shawnee County Government and Consolidation, by Richard V. Eckert. 2005-05-02.

External links[]

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