[photo, City Hall, 100 North Holliday St., Baltimore, Maryland]


In Baltimore, the City Council constitutes the Legislative Branch of government. It considers bills (proposed legislation) offered by Council members and assigned to the Council's standing committees for consideration and hearings.

The City Council consists of fifteen members. Fourteen are elected by Council district voters, and one at-large member is elected as City Council President by voters throughout the City. Members serve four-year terms (City Charter, Art. III, secs. 1-14).

City Hall, 100 North Holliday St., Baltimore, Maryland, June 2006. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


To review proposed legislation, the City Council works through nine standing committees: Budget and Appropriations; Education and Youth; Executive Appointments; Housing and Urban Affairs; Judiciary and Legislative Investigations; Labor; Land Use and Transportation; Public Safety; and Taxation, Finance and Economic Development.


The Education and Youth Committee started as the Education and Human Resources Committee by 1992. It later became the Education, Housing, Health and Human Services Committee. It reformed as the Education Committee in 2007, and adopted its present name by 2014.

The Executive Appointments Committee had organized by 1994.

The Housing and Urban Affairs Committee started as the Housing Committee which had organized by 1992. Some of its functions were assumed by the Education, Housing, Health and Human Services Committee. Others were carried out by the Community Development Subcommittee of the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee. Functions of that subcommittee were restructured as part of the Housing and Community Development Committee in 2011.

In December 2016, the Housing and Community Development Committee merged with the Urban Affairs and Aging Committee to form the Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

The Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee was formed by 2007.

Formerly a subcommittee under the Budget and Appropriations Committee, the Labor Committee was reconstituted under its present name in 2011.

The Land Use and Transportation Committee originally formed as the Land Use Committee by 1992.

Formerly the Public Safety and Health Committee, the Public Safety Committee adopted its present name in 2010.

The Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee started as the Taxation and Finance Committee which functioned from approximately 1992 to 2007 when it reformed under its present name.


With the approval of the Board of Estimates, the Comptroller purchases insurance for the City, and represents the City claims against insurance companies on policies held by the City. Funds awarded in settlement are received by the Mayor and City Council for disbursement.

The Comptroller is elected by the voters to a four-year term, and serves ex officio on the Board of Estimates, and the Board of Finance (City Charter, Art. V; City Code, Art. 5, sec. 1).

Under the Comptroller are three Departments: Audits, Communication Services, and Real Estate.

Through independent audit consultative services, the Department of Audits provides financial statements, reports, and recommendations to improve the accountability of government to the citizens of Baltimore.

Under the Comptroller, the Department of Communication Services provides communications technologies and services for Baltimore government.

The Department is responsible for the Municipal Telephone Exchange and the Municipal Post Office. The Municipal Telephone Exchange maintains the telecommunications system through which voice, data and wireless services are provided for City government agencies. The Municipal Post Office distributes U.S. Postal mail and interdepartmental mail to City government agencies.

The Department of Real Estate acquires real property for the use of the City. Moreover, for any property no longer needed by the City for public use, the Department arranges for its deposition. In addition, the Department manages the use of City-owned docks, wharves, piers, and other facilities which constitute the City-owned portion of the waterfront.

In overseeing the Department of Real Estate, the Comptroller records all agreements, contracts, deeds, and leases related to City properties, and maintains an inventory of these records. With the Director of Finance, the Comptroller updates and verifies the accuracy of this inventory quarterly.

The Department is headed by the City Real Estate Officer.


Fiscal policy for the City is developed and executed by the Board of Estimates. The Board also supervises all contracts and purchases awarded by the City, sets City employee salaries and wages, and establishes proceedures for payment of bonds to and claims against the City.

Annually, the Board holds hearings on the operating budget proposed by the Finance Director. To the President of the City Council, it then submits an ordinance of estimates, which consists of an operating budget, a capital budget, and a contingent fund appropriation to cover possible emergencies.

The Board of Estimates consists of five ex officio members: the Mayor; the City Comptroller; the City Council President; the City Solicitor; and the Director of the Department of Public Works (City Charter, Art. VI).


The Board of Ethics hears allegations of violation of the City’s ethics code. The Board investigates and rules on allegations made against elected City officials and employees for conflicts of interest, problems with financial disclosure, or lobbying misconduct. If evidence of certain violations are found while conducting its investigation, the Board must refer those cases to the appropriate prosecting authority.

Reporting annually to the Mayor and City Council, the Board recommends legislation, and develops and provides a training course for those subject to the Code. Annually, the Commission also submits a report to the State Ethics Commission, showing City compliance with State regulations (Code State Government Article, sec. 15-803(b)).

Five members constitute the Board of Ethics. Three are appointed to five-year terms by the Mayor, and two serve ex officio. The Director of Legislative Reference serves as the Executive Director of the Board (City Charter, Art. VII, secs. 105-110; City Code, Art. 8, secs. 1-1 through 9-22).


[photo, City Hall, 100 North Holliday St., Baltimore, Maryland] The Board of Legislative Reference governs the Department of Legislative Reference.

Serving on the Board are a representative of the City Council and six ex officio members: the Mayor; the City Solicitor; the President of The Johns Hopkins University; the Dean of the Carey School of Law, University of Maryland; the Dean of the School of Law, University of Baltimore; and the Director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (City Charter, Art. VII, sec. 93).

City Hall, 100 North Holliday St., Baltimore, Maryland, June 2006. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

Work of the Department of Legislative Reference is concerned with legislative matters, and records and archives. Appointed by the Board of Legislative Reference, the Director supervises and directs the Department.

At the request of the Mayor, City Council committees, or heads of City departments, the Director investigates and reports upon the laws of Maryland and other states and cities; and compiles data showing the practical operation and effect of such laws. The Director also investigates and collects information relating to any matter which is the subject of proposed legislation by the General Assembly, or the City Council; and examines and reports on acts, ordinances, and records of any state or city, to the Mayor, City Council committee, or City department heads.

Upon request of any City Council member, the Director prepares or advises in the preparation of any bill, ordinance, or resolution; preserves and collects all information obtained, carefully indexed and arranged, so as to be at all times easily accessible to City officers and open to the inspection of the general public.

The Director keeps all books, documents, archives, records, official plats, papers, and proceedings of the City, except those in current use or whose custody the Board of Estimates shall by resolution otherwise direct or authorize. A complete series of the ordinances, resolutions, and proceedings of the City is collected, arranged and safely kept by the Director. Moreover, other documents pertaining to the City, which the Director deems to have historic value, or which by ordinance or resolution the Board of Estimates directs be kept, are received and kept by the Director. While such books, documents, papers, plats, or archives are retained in the Department, they are available for inspection and reproduction by the public under such reasonable regulations and supervision as the Director may prescribe. In addition, the Director prepares and keeps an index of all books, papers, records, and documents in the custody of the Department; and keeps a current separate index of all rules and regulations of other City departments and agencies (City Charter, Art. VII, sec. 93).

Maryland Constitutional Offices & Agencies
Maryland Departments
Maryland Independent Agencies
Maryland Executive Commissions, Committees, Task Forces, & Advisory Boards
Maryland Universities & Colleges
Maryland Counties
Maryland Municipalities
Maryland at a Glance

Maryland Manual On-Line

Search the Manual

This information resource of the Maryland State Archives is presented here for fair use in the public domain. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: Rights assessment for associated source material is the responsibility of the user.

Tell Us What You Think About the Maryland State Archives Website!

[ Archives' Home Page  ||  All About Maryland  ||  Maryland Manual On-Line  ||  Reference & Research
||  Search the Archives   ||  Education & Outreach  ||  Archives of Maryland Online ]

Governor     General Assembly    Judiciary     Maryland.Gov

© Copyright February 16, 2017 Maryland State Archives