Florida's special districts: effective and accountable

July 26, 2013 

As Gov. Rick Scott continues his in-depth review of special districts across the state, the Florida Association of Special Districts looks forward to continuing an open dialogue and providing information regarding the transparent and highly-efficient operation of its member districts and the unparalleled services they provide to their communities and residents (Herald, "Scott surprised by special taxing districts," July 15).

Gov. Scott seeks to do right by Floridians and taxpayers with this endeavor, and we hope that all interested parties are reassured of the true and unique need for special-purpose government as this investigative process continues.

Special districts provide limited purpose government on a local level. From mosquito and fire control to community development, all special districts provide unique services, all the while remaining accountable and accessible to the citizens they serve.

Independent special districts, like all cities and counties, are governed by Florida's Sunshine Laws, public records laws and standards of ethics for elected officials. They are required to prepare financial statements, which are then reviewed by an independent auditor and submitted to the State of Florida Auditor General.

The vast majority of independent special districts are governed by board members who are elected by area residents or landowners.

Unlike a city or county where residents pay for services to an area from which they receive no benefit, only those residents who benefit from special district services or infrastructure pay for them.

Special districts possess the knowledge, experience and resources to meet these needs in an efficient, accountable and transparent manner.

Without independent special districts, many of the services and infrastructure they currently provide would disappear, as cities and counties do not have the resources to provide for them in today's economic environment.

We appreciate Gov. Scott's willingness to review the operations of special districts and we look forward to providing all parties with required information.

O'Neal Bardin Jr., President, Florida Association of Special Districts

Palm Beach Gardens

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