Section 189.428, Florida Statutes 2003
189.428 Special districts; oversight review process.--
(1) The Legislature finds it to be in the public interest to establish an oversight review process for special districts wherein each special district in the state may be reviewed by the local general-purpose government in which the district exists. The Legislature further finds and determines that such law fulfills an important state interest. It is the intent of the Legislature that the oversight review process shall contribute to informed decisionmaking. These decisions may involve the continuing existence or dissolution of a district, the appropriate future role and focus of a district, improvements in the functioning or delivery of services by a district, and the need for any transition, adjustment, or special implementation periods or provisions. Any final recommendations from the oversight review process that are adopted and implemented by the appropriate level of government shall not be implemented in a manner that would impair the obligation of contracts.
(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that any oversight review process be conducted in conjunction with special district public facilities reporting and the local government evaluation and appraisal report process described in s. 189.415(2).
(3) The order in which special districts may be subject to oversight review shall be determined by the reviewer and shall occur as follows:
(a) All dependent special districts may be reviewed by the general-purpose local government to which they are dependent.
(b) All single-county independent special districts may be reviewed by a county or municipality in which they are located or the government that created the district. Any single-county independent district that serves an area greater than the boundaries of one general-purpose local government may only be reviewed by the county on the county's own initiative or upon receipt of a request from any municipality served by the special district.
(c) All multicounty independent special districts may be reviewed by the government that created the district. Any general-purpose local governments within the boundaries of a multicounty district may prepare a preliminary review of a multicounty special district for possible reference or inclusion in the full review report.
(d) Upon request by the reviewer, any special district within all or a portion of the same county as the special district being reviewed may prepare a preliminary review of the district for possible reference or inclusion in the full oversight review report.
(4) All special districts, governmental entities, and state agencies shall cooperate with the Legislature and with any general-purpose local government seeking information or assistance with the oversight review process and with the preparation of an oversight review report.
(5) Those conducting the oversight review process shall, at a minimum, consider the listed criteria for evaluating the special district, but may also consider any additional factors relating to the district and its performance. If any of the listed criteria do not apply to the special district being reviewed, they need not be considered. The criteria to be considered by the reviewer include:
(a) The degree to which the service or services offered by the special district are essential or contribute to the well-being of the community.
(b) The extent of continuing need for the service or services currently provided by the special district.
(c) The extent of municipal annexation or incorporation activity occurring or likely to occur within the boundaries of the special district and its impact on the delivery of services by the special district.
(d) Whether there is a less costly alternative method of delivering the service or services that would adequately provide the district residents with the services provided by the district.
(e) Whether transfer of the responsibility for delivery of the service or services to an entity other than the special district being reviewed could be accomplished without jeopardizing the district's existing contracts, bonds, or outstanding indebtedness.
(f) Whether the Auditor General has notified the Legislative Auditing Committee that the special district's audit report, reviewed pursuant to s. 11.45(7), indicates that a deteriorating financial condition exists that may cause a condition described in s. 218.503(1) to occur if actions are not taken to address such condition.
(g) Whether the Auditor General has determined that the special district is in a state of financial emergency as provided in s. 218.503(1), and has notified the Governor and the Legislative Auditing Committee.
(h) Whether the district is inactive according to the official list of special districts, and whether the district is meeting and discharging its responsibilities as required by its charter, as well as projected increases or decreases in district activity.
(i) Whether the special district has failed to comply with any of the reporting requirements in this chapter, including preparation of the public facilities report.
(j) Whether the special district has designated a registered office and agent as required by s. 189.416, and has complied with all open public records and meeting requirements.
(6) Any special district may at any time provide the Legislature and the general-purpose local government conducting the review or making decisions based upon the final oversight review report with written responses to any questions, concerns, preliminary reports, draft reports, or final reports relating to the district.
(7) The final report of a reviewing government shall be filed with the government that created the district and shall serve as the basis for any modification to the district charter or dissolution or merger of the district.
(8) If legislative dissolution or merger of a district is proposed in the final report, the reviewing government shall also propose a plan for the merger or dissolution, and the plan shall address the following factors in evaluating the proposed merger or dissolution:
(a) Whether, in light of independent fiscal analysis, level-of-service implications, and other public policy considerations, the proposed merger or dissolution is the best alternative for delivering services and facilities to the affected area.
(b) Whether the services and facilities to be provided pursuant to the merger or dissolution will be compatible with the capacity and uses of existing local services and facilities.
(c) Whether the merger or dissolution is consistent with applicable provisions of the state comprehensive plan, the strategic regional policy plan, and the local government comprehensive plans of the affected area.
(d) Whether the proposed merger adequately provides for the assumption of all indebtedness.
The reviewing government shall consider the report in a public hearing held within the jurisdiction of the district. If adopted by the governing board of the reviewing government, the request for legislative merger or dissolution of the district may proceed. The adopted plan shall be filed as an attachment to the economic impact statement regarding the proposed special act or general act of local application dissolving a district.
(9) This section does not apply to a deepwater port listed in s. 311.09(1) which is in compliance with a port master plan adopted pursuant to s. 163.3178(2)(k), or to an airport authority operating in compliance with an airport master plan approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, or to any special district organized to operate health systems and facilities licensed under chapter 395 or chapter 400.
History.--s. 23, ch. 97-255; s. 46, ch. 2001-266.