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Baltimore County’s seat of government is located in Towson, Maryland. Baltimore County performs all local government functions within its jurisdiction. There are no incorporated towns, municipalities or other political subdivisions. Under home rule since 1957, an elected County Executive and a seven-member County Council, with each serving separate executive and legislative functions, govern the County.
The County Council members are elected from each of seven contiguous and equally populated council districts. The County Executive and the County Council serve contemporaneous four-year terms in office with the current term ending December 2010. There is no term limitation for County Council members. The County Executive may serve two consecutive terms in office.
Each member of the County Council has one vote, and a simple majority of the County Council is sufficient to pass legislation in the absence of higher voting requirements. Emergency bills and County Council actions to override a veto by the County Executive require the vote of five members of the County Council. The citizens of Baltimore County may petition to referendum any law or any appropriation increase approved by the Council. The County Council elects its own chairperson annually.
The Executive Branch is comprised of the County Executive and the County Administrative Officer. The County Executive is the chief executive officer of the County and the official head of the County government. The County Executive appoints the Administrative Officer subject to the County Council's approval. The County Administrative Officer oversees the daily operations of the County Government. The Legislative Branch is comprised of the County Council, the County Auditor and the Board of Appeals.
Baltimore County has consistently received AAA bond ratings from all three major rating agencies. Less than one percent of all jurisdictions in the nation receive the highest rating from all three agencies. A high rating benefits the County by providing low cost financing when the County borrows money through the bond markets.
Moody’s cites “This highest-quality rating is due to the County’s substantial tax base and expectation of continued commercial and industrial growth, its favorable financial position and manageable debt positions.” The three investment firms consider the County’s outlook as stable in the near- and long-term.
The diverse source of revenue to the County, largely balanced between income taxes (39 percent) and property tax (47 percent), has allowed the County to maintain a stable tax structure, and actually reduce taxes over the last few years. This ensures a consistent tax rate into the future.
Additionally, the County has no separate municipalities within its boundaries. The single jurisdiction results in lower cost, more efficient government, with no separate taxing districts.
Provided by the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce and Comcast in Cooperation
Revised February 19, 2013