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 any information regarding the transparent and efficient operation of its member districts and the unparalleled services they provide to their communities and the residents of this state.
Gov. Scott seeks to do right by Florida residents 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, roads and hospitals, 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’s auditor general. The vast majority of independent special districts are governed by board members who are elected by the residents or landowners within their own district.
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 provide these services and infrastructure needs in an effective, efficient, accountable and transparent manner. Without independent special districts, many of the services and infrastructure they currently provide would disappear, as cities and counties simply do not have the resources to provide for these critical needs in today’s economic environment.
We appreciate Gov. Scott’s willingness to review the operations of special districts across the state, and we look forward to providing all interested parties with information on special districts.
O’Neal Bardin Jr., president, Florida Association of Special Districts,