FAIRFIELD — Figuring out how many special districts Solano County has is no easy task with no definitive answer.
It all depends on how “special district” is defined.
The State Controller’s Office takes a wide view. It defines the districts as any legally constituted governmental entities that are not cities, counties, redevelopment agencies or school districts.
Using this definition, the state in 2010-11 had 4,772 special districts, with revenues of more than $40 billion from property taxes, service fees and other sources. Solano County had 46 special districts with revenues of more than $135 million, according to a Controller’s Office report.
But the California Senate Local Government Committee takes another view. It says a special district must be a government, have a governing board, provide services and have boundaries. California has about 3,300 special districts, a committee report said.
The California Senate Local Government Committee didn’t release a list of Solano County special districts. But, using its definition, it’s clear that some districts on the State Controller’s Office list would be removed.
A Solano County lighting and lighting maintenance district governed by the Solano County Board of Supervisors is among those dropping off the list. The Senate committee doesn’t consider maintenance districts as special districts. The state Controller’s Office does.
Nor does the Senate committee consider joint power authorities as special districts. Local governments form joint powers authorities so they can team up to act collectively.
For example, the Tri-City and County Planning Cooperative Planning Group is a joint powers authority among Solano County, Fairfield, Vallejo and Benicia to help protect open space in the hills between the three cities. Each party has representatives on the board of directors.
The Tri-City and County Planning Cooperative Planning Group wouldn’t fit the Senate committee definition of a special district. Yet it is on the state Controller’s Office list.
Whether an agency is a special district can be in the eye of the beholder.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.
Some of Solano County’s special districts
(Source: Solano County)