General Question

Stinley's avatar

What does unincorporated mean?

Asked by Stinley (11479points) June 20th, 2011

I read in a book about an area being unincorporated. I looked up wikipedia but it didn’t make much sense in that I was wondering how it affects the residents – what are the benefits to being unincorporated? There must be some, otherwise wouldn’t they just get incorporated?

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7 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

A place with a small population can skip some unnecessary expenses. For example, no need to have a police force if the county sheriff can handle the responsibility.

zenvelo's avatar

It means they are not within the boundaries of a city or town that has been incorporated. I lived for many years outside of the city limits of an incorporated town. Although my address stated the town, my police and fire services and road maintenance were provided by the County, not the city.

crisw's avatar

Zenvelo pretty much got it. Another benefit is that you may have a lower sales tax, if the local city has its own sales tax. In addition, for things that require permits, like building, you follow the county’s regulations rather than the city’s.

JessK's avatar

I took Civics a couple of years ago; I know you don’t have to pay for amenities like water if your area is unincorporated.

zenvelo's avatar

@JessK That’s not necessarily true. I had to pay for water to the Municipal Utility District which in my area covers most of two counties. We paid for sewage via a property tax assessment that applied to our unincorporated area.

As noted above by @crisw, the building permits in our area were issued by the County. The local town has stricter requirements on blocking views and setbacks and ratio of square footage to lot size. The County was much less restrictive.

crisw's avatar


We sure paid for our water every month, even though we lived in an unincorporated area!

Stinley's avatar

So either the city council or the county council could provide the same services, it just depends where you live. Does the incorporated city exists independently within the county? Do any of the county laws apply in the city? I’m thinking that the city laws apply if they exist, if they don’t exist then a county law would apply. Do counties have different laws to state laws? Which take precedence?

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