Florida Special District Handbook Online:
General Financial Requirements
This section covers general financial issues that are important under Florida's Local Government Financial Reporting System.
Uniform Fiscal Year
Most special districts must use a fiscal year that begins on October 1 and ends on September 30. This corresponds to the same fiscal year that all counties and municipalities must use. Housing authorities must use one of four fiscal years assigned by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The State of Florida's fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30.
The Uniform Chart of Accounts
The Uniform Chart of Accounts enables the Department of Financial Services to collect uniform financial data from all governmental entities in Florida. This makes it easier to analyze and compare various financial transactions and provide accurate financial data to the Legislature, citizens, and other officials. The Uniform Chart of Accounts sets forth the following:
- Uniform accounting procedures.
- Generally accepted accounting principles, classification of funds, and accrual accounting.
- Standardized account classifications, such as revenues, expenditures, assets, liabilities, and fund equity levels:
- Every financial transaction has a numbered account.
- The complexity of the account number depends upon its function and detail. For example, contributions to the general fund are in account #101. A twelve-digit account number, such as 104-2132-521.40, identifies a travel expenditure for a law enforcement activity with a public safety function in the patrol division of a police department.
For more information, please see Local Government Chart of Accounts and Uniform Accounting System Manuals.
Travel Expenses and Reimbursements
Special district travel reimbursements for expenses incurred while on official business must comply with the state travel provisions (see section 112.061, Florida Statutes - Per diem and travel expenses of public officers, employees, and authorized persons).
However, a special district's governing body, by the enactment of a resolution, may set per diem rates that exceed the state's maximum travel reimbursement rates, which are made based on whether the travel is Class A, B or C:
- Class A is continuous travel of 24 hours or more away from official headquarters. The travel day is a calendar day (midnight to midnight).
- Class B is continuous travel of less than 24 hours with an overnight absence from official headquarters. The travel day begins at the same time as the travel period.
- Class C is travel for short or day trips when the traveler is not away from official headquarters overnight.
Class A and Class B Travel
For Class A and Class B travel, the traveler is reimbursed one-fourth of the authorized rate of per diem for each quarter, or fraction thereof, of the travel day included within the travel period. The travel reimbursements for overnight travel for Class A or B must be either:
- $80.00 per day; or,
- Actual expenses for lodging at a single-occupancy rate plus meals as follows:
- $6.00 for breakfast
- $11.00 for lunch
- $19.00 for dinner
If a convention or conference registration fee included a meal, no reimbursement is allowed for that meal. When requesting reimbursement for actual lodging expenses, travelers must submit a paid, itemized hotel or motel receipt billed single occupancy.
Class C Travel
For Class C travel, reimbursements are not made on a per diem basis. However, meal allowances must be based on the following schedule:
- Breakfast ($6.00), when travel begins before 6 a.m. and extends beyond 8 a.m.
- Lunch ($11.00), when travel begins before 12 noon and extends beyond 2 p.m.
- Dinner ($19.00), when travel begins before 6 p.m. and extends beyond 8 p.m., or when travel occurs during nighttime hours due to special assignment.
No allowance shall be made for meals when travel is confined to the city or town of the official headquarters or immediate vicinity, except assignments of official business outside the traveler's regular place of employment if travel expenses are approved.
Designate the Most Economical Method of Travel
The special district must designate the most economical method of travel for each trip, keeping in mind:
- The nature of the business
- The most efficient and economical means of travel considering
- Impact on Productivity
- Cost of Transportation
- Per diem
- The number of persons making the trip
- The amount of equipment or material to be transported
When privately owned vehicles are used, the traveler is entitled to a mileage allowance at a fixed rate of 44.5 cents per mile, computed using the Department of Transportation's Florida Official Intercity Highway Mileage website. Vicinity mileage is allowable but must be shown as a separate item on the expense voucher.
Other Allowable Expenses
Other allowable expenses include:
- Taxi fare
- Bridge and Road Tolls
- Parking Fees
- Communication Expenses.
General Budget Requirements
A county or municipality may review the budget or tax levy of any special district located solely within its boundaries.
With the exception of the water management districts defined in Section 373.019, Florida Statutes - Definitions, all special districts must comply with the following budget requirements:
- Adopt a budget by resolution each fiscal year.
- The total amount available from taxation and other sources, including balances brought forward from prior fiscal years, must equal the total of appropriations for expenditures and reserves.
- At a minimum, the adopted budget must show for each fund, as required by law and sound financial practices, budgeted revenues and expenditures by organizational unit that are at least at the level of detail required for the Annual Financial Report.
- The adopted budget must regulate expenditures of the special district.
- An officer of a special district may not expend or contract for expenditures in any fiscal year except pursuant to the adopted budget.
- Website Requirements:
- The tentative budget, if applicable, must be posted on the special district's official website at least two days before the budget hearing held pursuant to Section 200.065, Florida Statutes - Method of Fixing Millage, or other law, to consider such budget and must remain on the website for at least 45 days.
- The final adopted budget must be posted on the special district's official website within 30 days after adoption and must remain on the website for at least two years.
Additional Budget Requirements for Dependent Special Districts
The proposed budget must be:
- Contained within the general budget of the county or municipality to which it is dependent (unless the county or municipality agrees to that the special district may have its own separate budget).
- Clearly stated as the budget of the dependent special district.
- Provided to the county or municipality when they request it.
Budget Amendment Procedures
A special district's governing body may amend the special district's budget any time within a fiscal year or within 60 days following the end of its fiscal year as follows:
- May increase or decrease appropriations for expenditures within a fund if the total appropriations of the fund do not increase.
- Method: Motion recorded in the minutes.
- The designated budget officer may authorize certain amendments if the total appropriations of the fund do not increase:
- Method: Procedures established by the special district's governing body.
- Other amendments not specifically authorized above:
- Adopted by a resolution of the special district's governing body.
- Posted on the official web site of the special district within five days after adoption and must remain on the website for at least two years.
Florida has what is known as the "Local Governmental Entity, Charter School, Charter Technical Career Center, and District School Board Financial Emergencies Act" (see Chapter 218, Part V - Local Governmental Entity and District School Board Financial Emergencies).
Financial Emergency Conditions
All local governmental entities, which includes special districts, are subject to review and oversight by the Governor if any one of the following conditions occurs:
- Failure within the same fiscal year in which due to pay short-term loans or failure to make bond debt service or other long-term debt payments when due, as a result of lack of funds
- Failure to pay uncontested claims from creditors within 90 days after the claim is presented, as a result of a lack of funds
- Failure to transfer at the appropriate time, due to lack of funds:
- Taxes withheld on the income of employees; or
- Employer and employee contributions for federal social security or any pension, retirement, or benefit plan of an employee
- Failure for one pay period to pay, due to lack of funds:
- Wages and salaries owed to employees; or
- Retirement benefits owed to former employees
Actions Required if Any One Financial Emergency Condition Occurs or Will Occur
If any one of the above conditions occur, or will occur if action is not taken to assist the special district, the special district must:
In addition, any state agency must notify the Governor and the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee within 30 days after a determination that one or more of the above conditions has or will occur if action is not taken to assist the special district. Upon notification that any one of the conditions have occurred or will occur:
- The Governor or designee shall contact the special district to determine what actions have been taken to resolve or prevent the condition.
- The special district must provide the information requested within 45 days after the date of the request. If the special district does not comply with the request, the Governor or designee shall notify the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, which may take action pursuant to section 11.40, Florida Statutes.
- If the Governor determines that the special district needs state assistance to resolve or prevent the condition, then the special district is considered to be in a state of financial emergency.
Resolving Financial Emergencies
To resolve a financial emergency, the Governor has the authority to implement measures to resolve the financial emergency, including, but not limited to:
- Requiring approval of the special district's budget.
- Authorizing a state loan to the special district and providing for repayment of the loan.
- Prohibiting the special district from issuing bonds, notes, certificates of indebtedness, or any other form of debt until the special district financial emergency is resolved.
- Making inspections and reviews of records, information, reports, and assets of the special district
- Consulting with officials and auditors of the special district and appropriate state officials regarding any steps necessary to bring the books of account, accounting systems, financial procedures, and reports into compliance with state requirements.
- Providing technical assistance to the special district.
- Establishing and appointing members to a financial emergency board to oversee the activities of the special district and submit recommendations and reports to the Governor for appropriate action. The board may do the following:
- Review the records, reports, and assets of the special district as needed.
- Consult with the officials and auditors of the special district and appropriate state officials regarding any steps necessary to bring the books of account, accounting systems, financial procedures, and reports into compliance with state requirements.
- Review the operations, management, efficiency, productivity, and financing of functions and operations of the special district.
- Consult with other governmental entities for the consolidation of all administrative direction and support services, including but not limited to services for asset sales, economic and community development, building inspections, parks and recreation, facilities management, engineering and construction, insurance coverage, risk management, planning and zoning, information systems, fleet management, and purchasing.
- Requiring and approving a plan, to be prepared by the special district in consultation with appropriate state officials, prescribing actions that will cause the special district to no longer be in a state of financial emergency. The plan must include at least the following:
- Provision for payment in full of obligations designated as priority items that are currently due or will come due.
- Establishment of priority budgeting or zero-based budgeting to eliminate items that are not affordable.
- The prohibition of a level of operations that can be sustained only with nonrecurring revenues.
- Provision implementing the consolidation, sourcing, or discontinuance of all administrative direction and support services, including, but not limited to, services for asset sales, economic and community development, building inspections parks and recreation, facilities management, engineering and construction, insurance coverage, risk management, planning and zoning, information systems, fleet management, and purchasing.
Failure to Resolve a State of Financial Emergency
For purposes of Section 7, Article IV of the State Constitution, the failure of the members of the special district's governing body to resolve a state of financial emergency constitutes:
- Misfeasance; and
- Neglect of duty
Financial Emergency Resolved
The Governor may terminate all state action when the Governor determines that the special district has:
- Established and is operating an effective financial accounting and reporting system.
- Resolved the financial emergency conditions.
A special district may not seek application of laws under the bankruptcy provisions of the United States Constitution without the prior approval of the Governor.
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