Baltimore County is one of the 24 main, local jurisdictions in Maryland (its 23 counties and Baltimore City). The county seat is Towson, MD.
Unlike some of Maryland's counties, Baltimore County has no incorporated municipalities. Though there are many towns in Baltimore County, none of them have any governmental structures. These communities are defined by history and tradition or other organizations such as the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Census or community associations.
Baltimore County Government StructureBecause the towns in Baltimore County are unincorporated, all taxes and governmental services not from the state of Maryland or federal government come from Baltimore County. These government services includes libraries, public schools, public safety and county parks. See more on Baltimore County services.
Like the federal and state governments, Baltimore County has three branches of government.
Residents elect a County Executive, who oversees the executive branch of county government. The County Executive, who is elected every four years during the same election year as governor of Maryland, acts much like a mayor of a city. He is charged with implementing policies and administering County government and has veto power over legislation passed by the County Council. The current County Executive is James Smith, who was first elected in 2002. The County Executive has a two term limit.
The 7-member County Council is the legislative branch of the government. Residents elect a council member for the district in which they live. Council members serve four year terms in an election cycle that is the same as the County Executive's. Find your County Council district.
The judiciary is the third branch of government. This branch handles marriage licenses and divorces as well as criminal and civil cases. Residents are expected to serve jury duty. Baltimore County has one trial/one day system of jury duty, meaning if you are not chosen for a trial you only serve one day of jury duty.
The Baltimore County judiciary includes:
- Circuit Court - major civil and criminal cases, family law
- District Court - tenant-landlord cases, small claims, motor vehicle violations
Taxes in Baltimore CountyThe majority of Baltimore County's revenue comes from property taxes. While the state does levy also property taxes, most of the property taxes are levied by local jurisdictions like Baltimore County. In 2007 Baltimore County's property tax rate was $1.10 per $100 of assessed value. More on property taxes in Maryland.
Income taxes are the County's second largest revenue source, providing more than a third of its income. In 2007 Baltimore County's income tax rate was 2.83 percent of a taxpayer's Maryland adjusted gross income. More on income taxes in Maryland.
Baltimore County also imposes taxes on mobile homes, hotel occupancy, telephone service (plus an additional tax for the 911 emergency call system), electricity usage and real estate property transfers. More on these other Baltimore County taxes.