How county government works

As the level of government that is closest to you, we provide direct services to you every day. Since there are no incorporated cities or towns in Howard County, county government provides all local government services.

Howard County Government consists of two branches, Executive and Legislative. A state operated Judicial branch has Howard County offices.

  • Executive
    • includes the County Executive and departments
    • proposes and administers the operating and capital budgets, carries out policies established by legislation, interacts with the state and other local governments, helps residents resolve concerns and delivers services to residents
  • Legislative
    • includes the County Council and the County Auditor
    • functions as the legislative branch of government. Five council members enact laws for the county, authorize the operating and capital budgets, refer residents to appropriate agencies and help residents solve problems. The five also sit as the Board of License commissioners (Liquor Board) and Zoning Board. The Auditor provides technical assistance to the council on financial matters, reviews the annual budget, and is in charge of the county's annual financial audit and audits of county departments.
  • Judicial
    • is a part of Maryland's judicial system
    • includes the Circuit Court (criminal, civil and juvenile matters); District Court (criminal misdemeanors and minor civil matters); Orphan's Court (has jurisdiction over the estates of decedents and minors); the Sheriff (law enforcement for the courts, providing security, serving papers, carrying out judgments in evictions and judicial sales, transporting prisoners and serving warrants) and the State's Attorney (prosecutes criminal and juvenile cases and determines whether to extradite persons in other areas who have been charged with crimes in Howard County).

You can find the Howard County charter and code here: