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Special Districts in Colorado are local governments, i.e., political subdivisions of
the state, which make up a third level of government in the United States. (The
federal and state governments are the other two levels.) Local governments
include counties, municipalities (cities and towns), school districts, and other
types of government entities such as "authorities" and "special districts."
Colorado law limits the types of services that county governments can provide to
residents. Districts are created to fill the gaps that may exist in the services
counties provide and the services the residents may desire. The majority of
districts draw their boundaries in unincorporated county land, but residents of a
municipality may be included in one or more districts.
As political subdivisions of the State of Colorado, special districts are required to submit a number of required filings to various state agencies throughout the year. These filings are primarily financial, but also include election results, lists of boards of directors, and others.
When a special district is created, they are required to submit a service plan that outlines the services that the district will provide. The service plan also provides a financial plan for the procurement of land and facilities that may be necessary to provide the district services. Service plans must be submitted to the board of county commissioners or the municipal board (if the district is wholly located within a municipality) for approval. After board approval and a successful election creating the district, the service plan, along with a certified court order organizing the district is filed with the county clerk and recorder and the Division of Local Government.
Special Districts must complete and submit a copy of an audit of the districts financial statements or an application for exemption from audit on an annual basis. Audits must be completed by an independent external auditor. Exemptions from audit are for governments with smaller budgets ($500,000 or less), and require submission of financial information compiled by finance professionals and approved by the Office of the State Auditor. Audits are due to the Office of the State Auditor by July 31st annually while exemptions are due to the same office by March 31st. Audits are available for review at the office of the special district, at the Office of the State Auditor, and at the Division of Local Government's Denver office.
More information at the Office of the State Auditor
A budget for each special district is required to be submitted to the Division of Local Government on an annual basis. The budget must contain revenues, expenditures, and fund balances. Each budget must also contain a message of significant budget issues for the year, the basis of accounting, and any leases that the district is involved in. A draft budget must be presented to the board of directors by October 15th. A hearing is set for public comment thereafter. The budget document must then be adopted by December 31st (Dec 15th if levying property taxes) and submitted to the Division of Local Government by January 31st of the budget year. Special district budgets are available for review at the office of the special district, or at the Division of Local Government's Denver office.
Basic Budget Calendar
More information on Local Government Budgeting