Websites matter, and in this module we spend some time explaining why they are even more important for special districts than for many other organizations. Special districts are doing important work, and a website can help you educate and connect with your communities - and it can also make sure that your voice is part of the conversation if any controversy arises, a rate increase is needed, etc. We also provide an overview of what each upcoming module will cover.Read More
A bill that requires all independent special districts in California to have a website was signed into law by Governor Brown this month. State Sen. Mike McGuire’s SB 929 – the Special Districts Transparency Act – requires every independent special district in California to create and consistently maintain a website with specific and detailed information including meeting agendas, clear information on the district’s budget and expenditures, compensation reports, information on how to contact representatives of the district, and more.Read More
There are a few formatting requirements that apply to local government agencies in California: Section 508 (for visitors with disabilities); AB 169 guidelines for anything considered “open data;” and AB 2257, which governs formatting and posting requirements for any agency’s main governing body’s agenda. In this article we’ll touch on the first two; to learn more about AB 2257 and home page agenda posting, check out this related article.
Special district websites must comply with federal and state mandates, but how do you keep up with changing requirements? The state doesn’t send you a letter after they’ve passed a new mandate, let alone give you a heads up beforehand. (And, how would you know Section 508 guidelines changed January 2018?)Read More
The Ralph M. Brown Act is an act of the California State Legislature passed in 1953 that guarantees the public's right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies. It’s been updated multiple times since its original drafting, and now includes a website posting requirement for agendas. While it has always been required to physically post agendas a minimum of 72 hours before upcoming regular meetings, it now requires that those agendas also be posted on the agency’s website, if they have one.Read More
This infographic from the 2012 Census on Local Government shows the breakdown of districts across the United States by type:
And we’re not done yet!Read More
If you're one of the few people who haven't seen the John Oliver video poking fun at special districts, watch it (click on the video below this paragraph), and then finish reading this. But be warned: if you're involved in special district work, it can be hard to watch.
A lifetime of involvement in special districts and a love for small local government has given me an understanding of just how challenging it can be for agencies to communicate online. However, instead of focusing on how hard it is, I’d like to look at five non-negotiable things your site should do for you. Just because it's been hard in the past doesn't mean it has to be hard now. We're here to make sure of that.Read More