Special Districts meet the needs of local communities
Special Districts have a long history of being a part of the fabric of local communities, often
with a record of providing critical services to area residents even before municipalities and other units of local government existed. The Lake Worth Drainage District is an example of a Special District created over a century ago, before the establishment of Palm Beach County, and at the request of the property owners to provide local flood control.
Sometimes a Special District's value to the community goes unnoticed until a dramatic event occurs. Recent examples are the Zika virus and the response by local mosquito control districts or hurricanes and the operation of flood control districts. Currently, there are approximately 1,600 Special Districts in the State of Florida providing limited and varied services on a local level.
Since Special Districts are limited in their functions, oversight is closely tied to the public. Only residents who directly benefit from the services provided by the Special District are assessed taxes or fees.
Independent Special Districts have strong levels of accountability because Board Members are elected by the residents within the District. Dependent Special Districts have Board Members that are appointed by the Governor or other elected officials, thereby providing accountability to the electorate. Special Districts are also subject to Florida's Sunshine Law, public record laws,financial disclosure and ethic laws.
An effective government is one that works closely with the people it serves. Special Districts are a great example of small, limited forms of government which are directly responsive to the immediate needs of the communities they serve.