Florida’s special districts could become targert

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A panel charged with examining taxpayer funded hospital districts is mulling whether to develop a “bill of rights” so residents better understand how special districts work, writes Christine Jordan Sexton.

Dominic Calabro, chairman of the Florida Commission on Review of Taxpayer Funded Hospital Districts, made the remarks at the end of the commission’s fourth meeting and as members of the board struggled out loud with the group’s broad mission.

Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order in March directing the panel to look at several things, including whether the special districts that run public hospitals have had any Sunshine Law violations.

There are 1,631 special districts in Florida, according to the Department of Community Affairs, that provide 70 different services, from health care to fire safety to water management. Districts either are dependent or independent.

There are 626 dependent districts, which are created by counties and municipalities and 1,005 independent districts created by the Legislature. All districts are governed by Florida statutes and must adhere to certain requirements, such as filing financial audits, complying with Florida’s broad public records laws and complying with ethics laws.

Calbro’s suggestion on special districts came the same day that Scott stood before The Economic Club of Florida and pointed out that special districts charge $15 billion in local taxes. He called it a “lot of money” and hinted his administration may recommend changes to how they operate.

“We are focusing in on how we spend all your money,” Scott told the crowd.

Continue reading Sexton’s story here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.