Special districts in Colorado are simply local governments, usually created by a developer to finance the development of public infrastructure (roads, water and sewer lines, bike paths and recreation trails, parks, community pools, recreation centers, and similar facilities) of a new development. Metropolitan districts are a type of special district commonly created in new subdivisions. When properly used, these districts provide an important service. But developers can misuse these districts, often putting their own private interests ahead of the public good.
Special districts must be created according to a very strict statutory process, with limited timelines allowed for property owners to object. Special districts must not be used for private benefit, but instead are compelled to provide public services and public facilities. Developers who use special districts as a source of private funds could be in violation of the law.
The Colorado corporate litigation attorneys at Burg Simpson have successfully represented property owners who have objected to special districts. We have also represented individuals who reside within special districts to help them gain control of the districts from the developers that are all too often reluctant to give up power. Our firm has successfully obtained judgments against developers that have misused special districts, and successfully invalidated agreements that would have forced taxpayers to pay for improper expenses. Burg Simpson law also regularly serves as general counsel to special districts run by residents.
If you are involved in a conflict with a special district, do not wait to call a Colorado corporate litigation attorney at Burg Simpson at 303-792-5595.
WHAT ARE THE LEGAL OBLIGATIONS?
Colorado law imposes strict limits on what services county governments can offer residents. These special districts typically spring up to fill the gaps that are left. Most of these special districts draw their boundaries in unincorporated county land, but they can also include municipality residents.
As political subdivisions of the state, special districts have to submit several different filings throughout the year. Most of these are financial, but also include things such as election results, boards of directors, among others. Some of the more critical paperwork includes:
- Service plan – One of the most important documents a special district has to file with the state is a service plan, which details what services the district will be responsible for. The service plan also lays out a financial plan for the acquisition of necessary facilities. Service plans must be submitted to the board of county commissioners or the appropriate municipal board. After approval and a successful election to establish the district, the service plan is filed with the county clerk and recorder as well as Colorado’s Division of Local Government.
- Annual audit – Special districts have to submit an audit of its financial statements or otherwise file for an exemption. Either of these must be filed annually and must be done independently. Audit exemptions are only for districts with smaller budgets and require submission of financial information compiled by finance professionals and must be approved by the State Auditor. Residents can review these audits at the special district office, at the state auditor’s office, and at the Division of Local Government.
- Annual budget – Every special district is also required to file an annual budget with the Division of Local Government. Among other things, the annual budget has to also include a note regarding significant budget issues, the basis of accounting, and any leases the district is committed to. Residents can review special district budgets at the office of the special district, or at the Division of Local Government.
CALL BURG SIMPSON FOR HELP
If you have concerns regarding metropolitan or other special districts, reach out to the Colorado commercial litigation lawyers at Burg Simpson by calling 303-792-5595 as soon as possible. We can assist you in protecting your rights!