transparency Local Government

Special Purpose Districts

In Texas, thousands of local governments called special purpose districts provide a variety of services including water conservation, toll roads, hospitals, libraries, utilities and fire control efforts.

In 2014, the Texas Senate Research Center updated a comprehensive explanation of special-purpose districts, including tables showing establishing authority, allowable purposes and financing mechanisms. Download Invisible Government: Special Purpose Districts in Texas (PDF) from the Senate Research Center.

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Funding and Debt

Depending on their purpose, these districts are supported by a property tax, sales tax or user fees, and may issue debt. Check out the Comptroller’s Special Purpose District Public Information Database to review district-submitted reports on financial and tax information.

Links at the right can provide you with detailed information on local sales and property tax rates throughout the state as well as the debt held by certain special-purpose districts.

Budgets and Spending

Many of Texas’ special purpose districts post their budgets, annual reports and detailed spending information online. The Comptroller recognizes special purpose districts demonstrating exemplary local transparency achievements through its Transparency Stars program. Visit our Transparency Star page to learn more about the program.

Even so, deciphering financial reports can be a challenge. That’s why we developed our Guide to Understanding Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports (ACFRs).