By: Jen Russon
The Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed a bundle of bills on Friday, expected to bring accountability and transparency to the special taxing districts.
The water districts which stand to benefit from the new legislation, serve over 40,000 residents in Coral Springs and Parkland and include Pine Tree Water Control, Sunshine Drainage, North Springs, and Coral Springs Improvement districts.
The legislation sponsored by State Rep Dan Daley, D-Coral Springs — House Bills 1495, 1499, 1501, and 1503 — are headed to the Governor’s desk for a signature sometime later this week after the Senate approves the companion bill.
“These bills revise the election method for the special district board members from election by a proxy vote of the largest landowner to popular vote, just like other elected officials in the area,” said Daley.
He added current law favors large landowners who are provided several votes per acre of property they own. These bills increase transparency and accountability of these districts by providing ratepayers (and soon-to-be electors) the opportunity to know, vet, and elect their board members.
Like those impacted by Daley’s bills, Special Taxing Districts can have multimillion-dollar budgets and can increase rates and fees on ratepayers, with varying levels of transparency.
For example, the Coral Springs Improvement District has a $20 million budget this year and can levy taxes, special assessments, and fees.
Water districts can impact not just taxpayers’ pocketbooks but also things like canal drainage and storm control.
Daley was clear: “By moving to popular elections, we are increasing accountability and transparency of these districts.”
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- Jen Russon has been a staff writer for Talk Media since 2018. She is also a novelist, copywriter and editor at Swallow Publishing, LLC.
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