Guide to Howard County 2020: Government and elected officials
By Patti Restivo
Mar 02, 2020 | 10:00 AM
Howard County’s government operates a school system, a police department with nearly 500 sworn officers, a fire department, a water and sewer system, a landfill and six branch libraries that have the highest per-capita circulation rate in the state.
The county raises money principally from property and income taxes and employs more than 3,000 people in government services, public safety, facilities and community services. Sixty-four percent of the county’s budget of almost $1.2 billion this fiscal year will pay for the county’s public schools, which are overseen by seven elected members of the Howard County Board of Education. The school system employs more than 8,500 people and serves nearly 59,000 students.
County Executive Calvin Ball and members on the five-seat County Council were elected in 2018 for four-year terms.
Columbia Association is a private, nonprofit corporation that resembles a local government, recreation business and civic organization rolled into one. Its board of directors is elected by property owners and the residents of Columbia’s 10 villages.
Supported by two major revenue sources — annual property owners’ fees and membership fees charged for programs and services — CA operates a broad scope of facilities such as parks, pathways, pools, tennis courts and golf courses, and maintains nearly 3,600 acres of open space, including 95 miles of walking, jogging and biking pathways.
CA owns all the village community association offices and neighborhood centers, and its covenants filter down to the neighborhood level. Each Columbia village has its own community association and resident-elected village board, which addresses neighborhood issues and can serve as advocates on behalf of residents.