The area that is Columbia today was once called Smithton. Due to a lack of water, the settlement was moved east, across the Flat Branch Creek and was
renamed Columbia in 1821. Columbia was incorporated in November 1826 and was governed by an elected five-member board of
trustees. In 1892, a mayor/council government was adopted and in 1949 the current council/manager form of government was established.
The Columbia City Council has a mayor, elected at-large, and representatives from six wards, all of whom are elected to three-year terms. The City Charter provides that the City Council “shall enact local legislation, adopt budgets, determine policies…” for the city of Columbia. The city manager is appointed by the Council and serves at the Council’s discretion.
As a full-service city, Columbia offers all of the traditional services one would expect of a municipal government – public health, police and fire protection, streets, waste water management, solid
waste management, parks and recreation services and more. Columbia also offers services above the basics, including an electric utility, a water utility, a regional airport and a short-line railroad.