Colorado has about 2,400 special districts, as designated by Title 32 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Special districts provide specialized services such as water/sewer, fire protection, parks & recreation, or libraries. They have the power to tax or assess fees for services and/or to issue bonds to help pay for community improvements. There are various types of special districts, such as metropolitan districts which can provide multiple services including development and construction costs, utilities, transportation, and infrastructure. In addition to increasing property taxes to pay for these services, metropolitan districts can also levy sales taxes. Colorado has numerous laws and rules for all of types of special districts. They must hold elections; be disclosed on real estate sale documents; and hold open meetings.
As the pace of development in Colorado increases, special districts are being used more often. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) has issued several new documents with helpful information about special districts, their laws, and how they operate:
- Special Districts: A Brief Review for Prospective Homeowners is an overview of special districts and their financing. It addresses many of the questions that people buying real estate may have about the purposes of special districts and how they will be taxed.
- Districts and Alternate Government Financing Mechanisms gives more detail on the various types of special districts and how they are applied.
- Legal Investments for Colorado Local Governments: A Brief Synopsis offers information on how special districts invest public moneys.
- Special District Administration & Elections Frequently Asked Questions provides answers to common questions such as how to hold a special district election and how TABOR affects special districts.
- Special District Service Plans explains how to file the required service plans with the district’s county or counties.
Also check DOLA’s Special Districts website for further resources, including forms, compliance, budget and audit information, how to change boundaries or status, and more. There is also a webpage about special district elections.