Solano County

Definitions vary for ‘special district’

By From page A1 | February 22, 2014

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 [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Some of Solano County’s special districts

  • Collinsville Levee District
  • Cordelia Fire Protection District
  • Dixon Public Library District
  • Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District
  • Greater Vallejo Recreation District
  • Maine Prairie Water District
  • Montezuma Fire Protection District
  • Rio Vista-Montezuma Cemetery District
  • Rural North Vacaville Water District
  • Solano Irrigation District
  • Solano County Mosquito Abatement District
  • Solano Resource Conservation District
  • Suisun Fairfield Rockville Cemetery District
  • Suisun Fire Protection District
  • Suisun Resource Conservation District
  • Vacaville-Elmira Cemetery District
  • Vacaville School District Library District
  • Vallejo Sanitation and Flood Control District

(Source: Solano County)

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

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