Florida Special District Handbook Online:
Dissolving Special Districts

With the exception of community development districts established under Chapter 190, Florida Statutes, or to water management districts created and operating under Chapter 373, Florida Statutes, this section describes how to dissolve dependent and independent special districts.

See also: Disposition of Public Records Upon Dissolution or Merger.

Filing Requirements

File a copy of the dissolution document with the Special District Accountability Program within 30 days of the dissolution's effective date. Electronic submission is preferred (see Additional Information - Department of Economic Opportunity, Special District Accountability Program Contact).

Dissolving Dependent Special Districts

Counties and municipalities, by ordinance, may dissolve their own dependent special districts. A county may not dissolve a special district that is dependent to a municipality or vice versa, and a county or municipality may not dissolve a dependent district created by special act.

Unless otherwise provided by general law, the Florida Legislature may dissolve a dependent special district created and operating pursuant to a special act.

A referendum is not required to dissolve a dependent special district created by special act if that special district meets any criteria for being declared inactive (see Dissolving Dependent and Independent Special Districts Through a Declaration of Inactive Status).

Dissolving Independent Special Districts Created and Operating Pursuant to a Special Act

  • The special district's governing body, by a majority vote plus one, may voluntarily elect to dissolve the special district and request legislative dissolution, unless otherwise provided by general law.
    • The special act dissolving the special district must be approved by a majority of the resident electors of the special district, or
    • For special districts in which a majority of governing body members are elected by landowners, a majority of the landowners voting in the same manner by which the independent special district’s governing body is elected.
    • If a local general-purpose government passes an ordinance or resolution in support of the dissolution, the local general-purpose government must pay any expenses associated with the required referendum.

Dissolving Independent Special Districts Created by a County or Municipality by Referendum or any other Procedure

The county or municipality that created the special district may dissolve the special district pursuant to a referendum or any other procedure by which the independent special district was created. However, if the independent special district has ad valorem taxation powers, the same procedure required to grant the independent special district ad valorem taxation powers is required to dissolve the special district.

Dissolving Independent Special Districts that are Inactive

If an independent special district meets any criteria for being declared inactive, it may be dissolved by special act without a referendum (see Dissolving Dependent and Independent Special Districts Through a Declaration of Inactive Status).

If an inactive independent special district was created by a county or municipality through a referendum - and the Department of Economic Opportunity has not already declared the special district inactive, the county or municipality that created the special district may dissolve the district after publishing a "Notice of Proposed Declaration of Inactive Status" in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or municipality in which the territory of the special district is located and sending a copy of such notice by certified mail to the registered agent or chair of the governing body, if any. The notice must include the following:

  1. The name of the special district
  2. The law under which it was organized and operating
  3. A general description of the territory included in the special district
  4. A statement that any objections must be filed pursuant to Chapter 120, Florida Statutes - Administrative Procedures Act within 21 days after the publication date

After 21 days have elapsed from the publication date of the Notice of Proposed Declaration of Inactive Status and no administrative appeals were filed, the county or municipality may dissolve the special district.

Debts and Assets of a Dissolved Special District

Unless otherwise provided by law or ordinance, (excluding Community Development Districts and Water Management Districts), the indebtedness and title to all property owned by a dissolving special district is transferred to the local general-purpose government.

Dissolving Dependent and Independent Special Districts Through a Declaration of Inactive Status

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) must initiate the process of declaring a special district inactive if the special district meets one of the following criteria:

  1. The special district's registered agent or governing body chair, or the governing body of the appropriate county or municipality, notifies DEO in writing that the special district has taken no action for two or more years.
  2. Following an inquiry from the DEO:
    • The special district's registered agent or governing body chair, or the appropriate county or municipality notifies DEO in writing that the special district has not had a governing body or sufficient number of governing body members to constitute a quorum for two or more years or,
    • The special district's registered agent or governing body chair, or the appropriate county or municipality fails to respond to DEO within 21 days.
  3. DEO determines that the special district failed to file any of the following reports with the appropriate county and/or municipality (see Consequences of Failure to Comply):
  4. DEO determines (see Consequences of Failure to Comply) that the special district failed to file any of the following reports with the appropriate state agency, if required:
  5. The special district has not had a registered office and agent on file with DEO for one or more years (see Designate a Registered Office and Registered Agent).
  6. The special district's governing body provides documentation to DEO that it has unanimously adopted a resolution declaring the special district inactive. This method does not require a referendum. However, the special district must cover any costs associated with its dissolution.

To declare a special district inactive, DEO will do the following:

  • Publish a "Notice of Proposed Declaration of Inactive Status" in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or municipality in which the territory of the special district is located and sending a copy of such notice by certified mail to the registered agent or chair of the governing body, if any. The notice will include the following:
    • The name of the special district
    • Each known law under which it was organized and operating
    • A general description of the territory included in the special district
    • A statement that any objections must be filed pursuant to Chapter 120, Florida Statutes - Administrative Procedures Act, within 21 days after the publication date
  • After 21 days have elapsed from the publication date of the Notice of Proposed Declaration of Inactive Status and if no administrative appeals were filed, DEO will change the special district's status on the Official List of Special Districts from "active" to inactive".

The Consequences of a Declaration of Inactive Status

The entity that created a special district declared inactive must dissolve the special district by repealing the special district's enabling laws or by other appropriate means. Upon declaring a special district inactive, the special district will no longer appear in the various active lists in the Official List of Special Districts. Instead, the inactive special district will appear in a separate list of inactive special districts. DEO will send a notice of declaration of inactive status to the entity or entities that created the special district.

  • If created by the Legislature, the department will notify the Legislature as follows. This notification is sufficient notice, pursuant to Section 10 Article III (Special laws) of the State Constitution, to authorize the Legislature to dissolve the special district by repealing its enabling laws.
    • The President of the Senate
    • The Speaker of the House of Representatives
    • The standing committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives charged with special district oversight as determined by the presiding officers of each respective chamber
    • The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee
  • If created by any other entity, the department will notify that entity and that entity must dissolve the special district by repealing its enabling laws or by other appropriate means.

A special district declared inactive may not collect taxes, fees, or assessments unless the declaration is:

  • Withdrawn or revoked by DEO, or,
  • Invalidated in proceedings initiated by the special district within 30 days after the publication date of the proposed notice of declaration of inactive status. The special district's governing body may initiate proceedings within this 30 day time period by one of the following methods:

If the special district's governing body does not initiate a timely challenge to the declaration of inactive status, or DEO prevails in a proceeding initiated, DEO may enforce the prohibition of an inactive special district that continues to collect taxes, fees, or assessments with the circuit court in and for Leon County. The petition may request declaratory, injunctive, or other equitable relief, including the appointment of a receiver, and any forfeiture or other remedy provided by law. The prevailing party shall be awarded costs of litigation and reasonable attorney fees in any proceedings.

An inactive special district's property or assets are subject to legal process for payment of any debts. The county or municipality may levy a tax or taxes on property in the inactive special district to pay its debt. The county property appraiser must assess the property, and the county tax collector must collect the tax. After the payment of all its debts, the remainder of its property or assets transfer to the county or municipality in which the special district is located.

Contact Someone Who Can Answer Questions About Dissolving Special Districts

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