Issues

Special districts -- with power to tax -- grow like weeds in Texas

When former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs issued a report in 2012 on special purpose districts — largely invisible layers of government with the power to charge property and sales taxes — there were 1,675 of the suckers.

She sounded the alarm, waived the flag and irritated a few people in the process. But the special purpose districts continued to sprout up all over the state, now growing to about 2,000. 

Combs is still beating the drum about the issue, even though she’s since left public office.

“There has been no effort to rein any of this in,” she said Friday.

Indeed, these ghost-like governments have continued to proliferate, according to data from the comptroller’s office. According to U.S. Census data, as of 2012, Texas has the third most special districts in the nation, trailing only California and Illinois.

Texas has more than 40 types of special purpose districts to build hospitals and libraries, control crime or bring infrastructure to a new development. Some of them have the power to impose a property and sales tax or condemn property through eminent domain. 

Click for more from Watchdog.org