Gov. Scott takes aim at special taxing districts
Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order Thursday ordering staff members to make a comprehensive review of the more than 1,600 special taxing districts across the state, saying some of them need to be held more accountable for their taxing, spending and borrowing decisions.
Scott's budget office will do the review and make recommendations for cutting costs and introducing accountability, as directed by Executive Order 12-10.
“A major factor in our goal of lowering the cost of living for Floridians are the roughly 1,600 special districts in Florida which bring in more than $15 billion in taxpayer-funded revenues each year,” Scott said. “Floridians have a right to know what they’re being taxed for and how that money is spent. This review will bring to light these questions and allow us to identify ways to save taxpayers money and increase accountability."
Many special taxing districts were created by the Legislature, and they provide many varied functions, from health care to juvenile welfare to drainage to mosquito control. Many are run by political appointees of the governor or cities and counties and are not elected -- which raises questions about accountability.
Clete Saunier, president of the Florida Association of Special Districts, the group's lobbying arm, issued a statement noting that taxing districts "are created upon public demand, and help Floridians when local or state governments were either unable or unwilling to provide crucial services." He said his organization welcomes "a fact-based discussion about special districts."