One of the reasons metro districts have emerged as a popular and viable financing mechanism to build infrastructure and homes is due to TABOR, which limits how much revenue governments can retain and spend and requires advance voter approval for tax increases.
This has made it much more difficult for cities and counties to fund services and infrastructure, increasing the pressure for separate, “pay your own way” solutions such as metro districts.
Governed by state law, these districts don’t receive tax benefits from cities, instead operating as an independent government with an elected board of directors who are accountable to the district taxpayers.
Similar to cities, elections to the district board are held in May of odd-numbered years, and all eligible electors – residents, property owners or spouse/civil union partner of property owner – of the district are permitted to participate. A person, such as a developer, who is obligated to pay taxes under a contract to purchase taxable property within the district are also considered property owners. The board of directors has five or seven members.
Although metro districts are independent governments, their power is much more limited than cities and towns. For instance, they don’t have police power or land use regulatory authority as the districts’ specific purpose is to finance public infrastructure.
Unlike an HOA, a private organization that manages and enforces rules and regulation with a specific community, the board of directors of a metro district are responsible for governing and has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the metro district. This includes running elections, acting transparently by holding open meetings and disclosing public records, providing public notice of meetings and recording minutes, and ensuring fiscal accountability through the adoption of annual budgets, submitting to financial audits and complying with TABOR.
If you are interested in finding more information on a specific metro district, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs maintains a Special District Repository of individual metro district documents.