This introductory publication is intended for special district board members and staff, as well as interested community  members andothers. It was written to engage the reader in a high-level discussion of revenues as the life blood of any special district. The focus is on the basic concepts of their importance, their rationale, and their need for regular maintenance, just like the other assets of any special district.

As background, it is important to understand that we are living and working in the post-Proposition 13 era of California, as that 1978 voter-approved measure severely limited local property tax revenues. Moreover, local governments must actively
work to justify their revenue streams on a regular basis. It is imperative that special district staff and board members think about and then take action on revenues, whether they are rates, fees, or other property-related charges. It is also crucial that districts regularly educate their communities about the vital services they provide and the revenues needed to make those services available.

Special district staff and board members have the responsibility to be proactive in maintaining the fiscal health of their agency; neglecting this duty is not a sustainable option.

This publication has two primary sections. The first volume provides an overview of these primary revenue tools for special districts, though not all are applicable to all district types:
• Utility rates
• User and regulatory fees
• Development impact fees, Quimby Act fees, and connection/capacity charges
• Parcel-based revenue tools (such as benefit assessments and parcel taxes)

The second volume provides basic background information, including an overview of property taxes and the impact of Propositions 13, 218, and 26, a discussion of cost recovery and cost allocation, roles of special district board and staff in managing revenues, and a summary of available debt financing tools when pay-as-you-go is not sufficient to provide the necessary public improvements.

We hope you find this information to be helpful as you move your community forward in a fiscally-sustainable manner.