Trying to understand administrative divisions in New York (County, Village, City, School District, etc.)

2 Replies

Help!  I wanted to check out tax rates within some nearby areas and started out here:

I was quickly baffled by the differences between counties, municipalities, class, school district, etc.  

After doing some reading here and also googling images of county wide municipality, town, and school district maps I THINK, I have created a list of "truth" statements, and sketched out a visual to represent the relationship between counties, towns, villages, cities, school districts, and the term municipality.  

Please let me know if these "truth" statements are true.  I am working within the filter of New York State only, EXCLUDING New York City.


  • Municipality is a governing unit, not a physical boundary
  • States are the major division of the country
  • Counties are major divisions of the state
  • Towns are major divisions of the county
  • Villages and cities are located within a town or towns
  • Villages and cities are located within a county or counties
  • All towns in NY are within a single county
  • Cities and villages may or may not be named the same as the town(s) they are located within
  • School Districts can span multiple counties, thus they can span multiple cities and villages

Visual Sketch:


I'll try to provide an answer from my own experience and knowledge, though my state is Michigan

Your "state" and "county" statements are correct.

The "town" and "villages and cities" statements are usually correct, but not always. For example, New York City falls across several counties, but not other towns.

In NY you either live in a city or town

Municipalities are governmental units (city, town or village) that have physical boundaries.

You are correct about school districts.

For tax purposes the most important thing is to know what municipality you are in (town or city) and school system. Those things along with prop value determine tax rates

The state is made up of multiple counties.  Within these counties are multiple townships. Within these townships are cities, villages or hamlets(towns).   People often refer their township as the "town" and their hamlet as their "town" thus causing some confusion. I hope this helps. 

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