What is Municipal Government?

Defining Municipalities

In Maryland, the term municipality includes cities, towns, and villages. A municipality is a corporate and political entity organized by the residents of the area to operate within a prescribed geographic area for the purpose of providing public services. The state grants the municipality the powers and authority that it exercises over its affairs. A municipality has at least the following characteristics:

  • A distinct geographic territory
  • A distinctly public character
  • Formal organization
  • General and specific powers to exercise
  • Legal authority to exist
  • Often (always in Maryland but not necessarily in other states) a formal, written set of basic laws commonly called a charter
  • Public officials who are elected periodically
  • Specific functions to perform or services to provide

Municipalities are creatures of the state. In Maryland, they are primarily governed by Article XI-E of the State Constitution and the Local Government Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland.