Special purpose districts (SPDs) and authorities are the most abundant types of government in Texas, but their small size and relative obscurity oftentimes mean that they go unnoticed. In fact, their nickname is “invisible governments.”

Broadly speaking, SPDs are independent governmental units created for a particular purpose, like removing graffiti; maintaining harbors, boat ramps, and fishing piers; or boosting tourism. Each entity’s structure, functions, and governance can vary substantially; however, they are commonly vested with the authority to:
• Impose a property or sales tax;
• Assess fees and other charges;
• Issue bonds and borrow money;
• Contract with other entities;
• Sue and be sued;
• Acquire, purchase, sell, or lease real or personal property; and/or
• Exercise eminent domain.