District Reliance by Service Function: A Study of Public Financing of American Special Districts





Over the past several decades, special districts have proliferated and become the most rapidly growing type of local governments in the U.S. This study provides an exploratory investigation of special district finance reliance from two aspects, including expenditure reliance of general–purpose governments on special districts’ service delivery and financing mode of special districts. Using financial data collected from the Bureau of Census, this study provides detailed descriptive analyses on temporal trends and geographical patterns of expenditure reliance and revenue financing mode for four service functions. From the perspective of expenditure reliance, this study shows that special districts have replaced the role of general–purpose governments. In terms of revenue modes, special districts tend to rely on user fees, equating payers and beneficiaries of services. Moreover, this study shows that on which revenue sources the districts rely the most vary by service function and geography.

Author Biographies

HyungGun Park, SungKyunKwan University

HyungGun Park is a researcher at the Institute of Governance and Policy Evaluation at SungKyunKwan University, South Korea. His research areas are urban governance, intergovernmental relationships, and citizen participation. His recent articles are published in Public Finance and Management, Journal of Asian Public Policy, and Chinese Public Administration Review.

Yu Shi, University of North Texas

Yu Shi is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of North Texas. Her research interests include fiscal federalism, municipal fiscal policies, nonprofit financial management, intergovernmental collaboration, and urban governance. She has published widely in journals in public administration, urban studies, and public finance.






Research Articles