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Seattle Lawmaker Pushes Transparency In Special Districts

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A Seattle state representative has targeted special purpose districts with a bill that aims to make them more accountable to their ratepayers.

Democrat Gerry Pollet’s bill would allow counties that collect tax money for those districts to withhold payments to those districts in some cases. He says those  include districts that don’t file annual reports or have their financial documents audited.

Pollet told the House Local Government Committee today [Tuesday] his bill would require special purpose districts to post agendas and other information online.

“Taxpayers should know what their tax dollars are being spent on. Taxpayers should know when the elected officials of the jurisdiction that taxes them are meeting and what’s on their agendas," Pollet said.

Pollet says financial shenanigans in special districts are often only discovered when reporters or whistleblowers uncover them.

Representatives from several taxing districts said they agree with the intent of the bill. But Judi Gladstone from the Washington Association of Sewer and Water Districts says  most special districts are transparent with the public.

“The majority of the districts that are out of compliance are the smaller ones. They range in connections from 20 to 700 and all have budgets under $2 million," Gladstone said.

She urged the sponsor to fine tune his bill to focus more on the offending districts so as not to force change on the rest.