Out of Sight: How Special Taxing Districts Circumvent Spending Limits and Decrease Accountability in Government
by Stephen Slivinski
January 16, 2014
Special taxing districts are now the fastest growing form of government, even though they often operate out of sight and out of mind for most voters and taxpayers. These often unnoticed local governments have the power to tax and spend like municipalities and are set up to provide a specific service. The number of special districts has grown rapidly because special districts are not subject to many of the spending and debt limits municipal governments face and tend to have little accountability to voters. To rein in this form of shadow government, the legislature should make special districts more accountable and limit the creation of special districts to necessary purposes. The caps placed on local borrowing and spending should be amended to apply to special districts as well. More transparency measures should be implemented. Finally, special district tax and bond elections should take place alongside all other elections in November.