The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) this week released a comprehensive county-by-county guide to local government taxing authority.
Compared with other states, Maryland’s county governments have a relatively significant role in delivering public services — in part because Maryland, unlike other states, does not have townships or independent school districts.
The authorities of Maryland counties derive mainly from the State, as delegated to them through the Local Government Article of the Maryland Code. In addition, local governments have inherent powers based on their integral role in delivering government services, especially ensuring public safety.
Maryland’s counties carry out their many duties through different government structures. There are three forms of county governments: commissioner, code home rule, and charter.
Charter counties have broad legislative power vested in their county council, and code home rule counties share most of the powers granted to charter counties. Commissioners may enact ordinances authorized by Express Powers, enabling legislation, or specific public local laws.
Article XI-A of the Maryland Constitution specifies that any Maryland county or Baltimore City may adopt a charter form of government, authorizing a locally elected council to legislate on local matters, to the extent authorized by a grant of express powers from the General Assembly.