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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 7 July 2017  

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  Clarification: roles of special districts
  By Lindsey Harrison

   According to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs website, special districts in Colorado were created to fill the gaps that might exist with services provided by other entities like the city, county, state and federal governments.
   Ann Terry, executive director of the Special District Association of Colorado, wrote in an email to The New Falcon Herald that special districts date back to the early mining camps around the state. “As the camps grew, the residents sought mechanisms to join together to provide certain essential services such as fire protection and sewer service,” she wrote. “Special districts of one form or another have been utilized since that time.”
   The Special District Association of Colorado’s website states: “Special districts fill a vital role in providing many of the basic services and public needs of the people in Colorado, including fire and rescue service, water and wastewater treatment and delivery, parks and recreation amenities, hospitals, libraries and cemeteries.”
   Terry wrote that special districts are organized under Title 32, Article 1 of the Colorado revised statutes; as such, their activities are subject to strict statutory guidelines.
   DOLA’s website states that part of those guidelines require special districts to be publicly accountable by doing the following: holding open meetings; properly posting all meeting notices; keeping minutes and other records that are all open for inspection by any citizen; holding elections for its governing board of directors; adopting an annual budget; and submitting to annual financial audits.
   Denise Stepto, director of communications and media relations for DOLA, said generally speaking, a special district’s board of directors oversees the proper functioning of the district and its service provision or provisions.
   Stepto said special district directors are held accountable by their constituents, who would likely be the first to determine if the board’s conduct is inappropriate. The state judicial branch would administer any legal consequences based on that conduct, she said.
   Metropolitan districts, such as Meridian Ranch Metropolitan District and Woodmen Hill Metropolitan District, fall under the category of a special district and are subject to the same statutory guidelines. According to the DOLA website, there are as many as 29 metropolitan districts in the Falcon/Peyton/Black Forest areas.
   “Colorado special districts have been instrumental in providing public infrastructure to meet the growing needs of the state’s population in the face of increasing demands on cities and counties to keep up with the ever-increasing need for urban services,” Terry wrote.
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