What is a Special District?

Special Districts are forms of local government created by the State, Counties, and Municipalities in order to provide a specific service or services to a defined area. Special Districts are often referred to as special-purpose governments, since the law authorizes a District to provide only those services that are specifically defined in their enabling legislation. Conversely, the State, County, and Municipal governments are called general-purpose local governments and are not specifically limited in what services they can provide to their residents.

The reason for Special District creation is to provide the permanent administrative structure for financing and maintaining services or infrastructure traditionally provided by general-purpose governments when these governments are unwilling or unable to provide the service or capital improvement. Consequently, Special Taxing Districts are frequently substituting and/or complementing the capabilities of general-purpose governments. For instance, Special Districts provide water management in multi-county jurisdictions, public infrastructure in new developments, streetlights to neighborhoods without them, and fire protection for Cities and Counties.  Special Taxing Districts are governed by an appointed/elected board and are empowered to serve as a public financing mechanism that provides accessibility to the tax exempt bond market to fund public infrastructure improvements.

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