They’re outside the traditional forms of local or state government, but so-called special districts spend more than $200 billion annually.
Nationwide, there are 38,000 of these government entities that provide a specific service for a designated area that would otherwise typically be provided by a local or state government.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and the Frontier Group inspected 79 special districts in a report they released Tuesday. The report found many lack fiscal transparency and easy access to audited financial statements or checkbook-level spending data.
Here in Connecticut, there are over 447 special districts. In 2013, the last year for which data was available, those special districts managed over well over $1.4 billion. These numbers, according to the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, are conservative because only a fraction of special districts in each state actually report to the U.S. Census.