Thursday, May 15, 2008

PC Treasurer Hosts Special Districts Meeting

CASA GRANDE- There are approximately 55 special taxing districts
within the boundaries of Pinal County. What is a special district?
They are political subdivisions that provide a specific service to
area residents. That service could be anything from flood control to
fire service. "Special taxing districts are started by the petition
process," said Pinal County Special Districts Administrator Gary
Medina. "These districts are run by a board of volunteers, who are
elected by the people they serve."

Over 40 people representing 21 entities were on hand for the 13th
annual Pinal County Special Districts Meeting held at the Property
Conference Center in Casa Grande. Chairman of the Pinal County Board
of Supervisors David Snider delivered the welcome to the guests. He
thanked them for the job they do and the service they provide. "They
represent a special form of government," Chairman Snider said
following his opening remarks. "They are the most common building
block of local government.

These districts are formed at the request of affected parties for some
specific purpose. The people who serve on the boards put in countless
hours planning for services, budgeting, setting the tax rate for their
service and ultimately provide the service. My hat is off to them for
the work they do." This year's agenda was filled with a myriad of
topics that ranged from rural development programs and grants to the
roles and responsibilities of board members. "Special districts have
unique needs," said Pinal County Treasurer Dodie Doolittle. "We try
to deliver the information they need on an annual basis. Each year
the law changes and we try to keep them up to date on what they can do
as a board. We also try to update the boards on programs and available
grants that they may not know about." Treasurer Doolittle said her
office works closely with special districts and county staff to decide
what will be on the program each year. "Building each year's agenda
can be a challenge," Doolittle says. "You may think you have talked
about a topic each year and beat it to death. But we always keep in
mind that there are new members that are on the boards and they may
not know such things as the open meeting law." County Attorney James
P. Walsh talked to the districts about the finer points of the open
meeting law. He provided examples of what could be an illegal meeting
or decision made by a governing body. "The public policy behind the
open meeting laws is to let people know what their government is doing
and to give them the information to participate," Walsh said. "These
boards are subject to the law and they need training to avoid
unintended violations." Some of the members in attendance were first
timers to the special districts meeting, while others were veterans of
the annual gathering. "I've been to about 10 of these meetings," said
Steven Whites, Director of the Midway Flood Control District. "I find
it helpful because I pick up something new from one year to the