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.
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