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The Florida Statutes

The 2017 Florida Statutes

Title XII
MUNICIPALITIES
Chapter 165
FORMATION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
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F.S. 165.0615
165.0615 Municipal conversion of independent special districts upon elector-initiated and approved referendum.
(1) The qualified electors of an independent special district may commence a municipal conversion proceeding by filing a petition with the governing body of the independent special district proposed to be converted if the district meets all of the following criteria:
(a) It was created by special act of the Legislature.
(b) It is designated as an improvement district and created pursuant to chapter 298 or is designated as a stewardship district and created pursuant to s. 189.031.
(c) Its governing board is elected.
(d) Its governing board agrees to the conversion.
(e) It provides at least four of the following municipal services: water, sewer, solid waste, drainage, roads, transportation, public works, fire and rescue, street lighting, parks and recreation, or library or cultural facilities.
(f) No portion of the district is located within the jurisdictional limits of a municipality.
(2)(a) The petition must include signatures of at least 40 percent of the qualified electors of the independent special district and must be submitted as provided in subsection (3) not later than 1 year after the start of the qualified elector-initiated municipal conversion proceeding.
(b) The petition must comply with, and be circulated in, the following form:

PETITION FOR MUNICIPAL CONVERSION OF
INDEPENDENT SPECIAL DISTRICT

We, the undersigned electors and legal voters of   (name of independent special district)  , qualified to vote at the next general or special election, respectfully petition that there be submitted to the electors and legal voters of   (name of independent special district proposed to be converted to a municipality)   for their approval or rejection at a referendum held for that purpose, a proposal to convert   (name of independent special district)   and incorporate   (proposed name of municipality)  .

In witness thereof, we have signed our names on the date indicated next to our signatures.

Date      Name   Home Address

(print under signature)

 

 

(c) The petition must be validated by a signed statement by a witness who is a duly qualified elector of the independent special district, a notary public, or another person authorized to take acknowledgments.
(d) A statement that is signed by a witness who is a duly qualified elector of the district shall be accepted for all purposes as the equivalent of an affidavit. The statement must be in substantially the following form:

“I,   (name of witness)  , state that I am a duly qualified voter of   (name of independent special district)  . Each of the   (insert number)   persons who have signed this petition sheet has signed his or her name in my presence on the dates indicated above and identified himself or herself to be the same person who signed the sheet. I understand that this statement will be accepted for all purposes as the equivalent of an affidavit and, if it contains a materially false statement, shall subject me to the penalties of perjury.”

Date      Signature of Witness

(e) A statement that is signed by a notary public or another person authorized to take acknowledgments must be in substantially the following form:

“On the date indicated above before me personally came each of the   (insert number)   electors and legal voters whose signatures appear on this petition sheet, who signed the petition in my presence and who, being by me duly sworn, each for himself or herself, identified himself or herself as the same person who signed the petition, and I declare that the foregoing information they provided was true.”

Date      Signature of Witness

(f) An alteration or correction of information appearing on a petition’s signature line, other than a signature that was not initialed, and date, does not invalidate the signature. In matters of form, this paragraph must be liberally construed, not inconsistent with substantial compliance thereto and the prevention of fraud.
(3) The appropriately signed petition must be filed with the governing body of the independent special district. The petition must be submitted to the supervisor of elections of the county in which the district lands are located. The supervisor of elections shall, within 30 business days after receipt of the petition, certify to the governing body the number of signatures of qualified electors contained on the petition.
(4) Upon verification by the supervisor of elections of the county within which the independent special district lands are located that 40 percent of the qualified electors have petitioned for municipal conversion and that all such petitions have been executed within 1 year after the date of the initiation of the qualified-elector conversion process, the governing body of the independent special district shall meet within 30 business days to prepare and approve by resolution a proposed elector-initiated combined conversion and incorporation plan. The proposed plan must include:
(a) The name of the independent special district to be converted to a municipality.
(b) The name of the municipality to be created.
(c) The conversion schedule.
(d) Notwithstanding s. 165.061(1)(d), certification by a licensed surveyor that the boundaries of the proposed municipality do not overlap with any other municipal boundary and are contained within a single county.
(e) The rights, duties, and obligations of the municipality, and a feasibility study that contains the requirements under s. 165.041(1)(b), except that the provisions of s. 165.061(1)(b)-(d) do not apply if the buildout of the land use allowed under the current county-approved comprehensive plan and zoning designations will meet the population and density requirements of s. 165.061(1)(b) and (c).
(f) The territorial boundaries of the proposed municipality.
(g) The governmental organization of the proposed municipality and independent special district as the organization concerns elected and appointed officials and public employees, along with a transitional plan and schedule for elections and appointments of officials.
(h) An accounting of the independent special district’s assets, including, but not limited to, real and personal property, and the current value of the property.
(i) An accounting of the independent special district’s liabilities and indebtedness, bonded and otherwise, and the current value of the liabilities and indebtedness.
(j) Terms for addressing the ownership and obligations related to existing assets, liabilities, and indebtedness of the independent special district, jointly, separately, or in defined proportions.
(k) Terms for the common administration and uniform enforcement of existing laws within the proposed municipality.
(l) An estimated date for final payment of any bonded indebtedness of the independent special district, and if maintained by the district after incorporation, the estimated date of automatic dissolution of the independent special district.
(m) The time and place for a public hearing on the proposed incorporation.
(n) The effective date of the proposed incorporation.
(5) The resolution endorsing the proposed elector-initiated municipal incorporation plan must be approved by a majority vote of the governing body of the independent special district and must be adopted at least 60 business days before any general or special election on the proposed elector-initiated plan.
(6) Within 5 business days after the independent special district approves the proposed elector-initiated municipal incorporation plan, the governing body must:
(a) Cause a copy of the proposed elector-initiated municipal incorporation plan, along with a descriptive summary of the plan, to be displayed and be readily accessible to the public for inspection in at least three public places within the territorial limits of the independent special district, unless the independent special district has fewer than three public places, in which case the plan must be accessible for inspection in all public places within the independent special district.
(b) If applicable, cause the proposed elector-initiated municipal incorporation plan, along with a descriptive summary of the plan and a reference to the public places within the independent special district where a copy of the plan may be examined, to be displayed on a website maintained by the district or otherwise on a website maintained by the county in which the district is located.
(c) Arrange for a descriptive summary of the proposed elector-initiated municipal incorporation plan, and a reference to the public places within the district where a copy may be examined, to be published in a newspaper of general circulation within the independent special district at least once each week for 4 successive weeks.
(7) The governing body of the independent special district shall set a time and place for one or more public hearings on the proposed elector-initiated combined municipal incorporation plan. Each public hearing shall be held on a weekday at least 7 business days after the day the first advertisement is published on the proposed elector-initiated merger plan. An interested person residing in the respective district shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on any aspect of the proposed merger at the public hearing.
(8) Notice of the final public hearing on the proposed elector-initiated combined municipal incorporation plan must be published pursuant to the notice requirements in s. 189.015 and must provide a descriptive summary of the elector-initiated municipal incorporation plan and a reference to the public places within the independent special district where a copy of the plan may be examined.
(9) After the final public hearing, the governing body of the independent special district may amend the proposed elector-initiated municipal incorporation plan if the amended version complies with the notice and public hearing requirements provided in this section. The governing body shall approve a final version of the plan within 60 business days after the final hearing.
(10) After the final public hearing, the governing body must notify the supervisor of elections of the county in which district lands are located of the adoption of the resolution by the governing body. The supervisor of elections shall schedule a date for the referendum for the district.
(11) Notice of a referendum on the municipal incorporation of the independent special district must be provided pursuant to the notice requirements in s. 100.342. The notice must include:
(a) A brief summary of the resolution and elector-initiated municipal incorporation plan;
(b) A statement as to where a copy of the resolution and petition for municipal incorporation may be examined;
(c) The name of the independent special district to be converted to a municipality and a description of the territory included in the plan;
(d) The time and place at which the referendum will be held; and
(e) Such other matters as may be necessary to call, provide for, and give notice of the referendum and to provide for the conduct of the referendum and the canvass of the returns.
(12) The referendum must be held in accordance with the Florida Election Code and may be held pursuant to ss. 101.6101-101.6107. The costs associated with the referendum must be borne by the independent special district.
(13) The ballot question in the referendum placed before the qualified electors of the independent special district to be incorporated must be in substantially the following form:

“Shall   (name of independent special district)   be converted into   (name of newly created municipality)  , which will assume all authority, powers, rights, and obligations of the district?

 YES

 NO”

(14) In any referendum held pursuant to this section, the ballots must be counted, returns made and canvassed, and results certified in the same manner as other elections or referenda for the independent special district.
(15) The incorporation plan will not take effect unless a majority of the votes cast in the independent special district are in favor of the plan.
(16) If the incorporation plan is approved by a majority of the votes cast in the independent special district, the district shall notify the Special District Accountability Program pursuant to s. 189.016(2) and the local general-purpose governments in which any part of the independent special district is situated pursuant to s. 189.016(7).
(17) If the referendum fails, the conversion process under this section may not be initiated for the same purpose within 2 years after the date of the referendum.
(18) An independent special district proposed for conversion under an elector-initiated municipal incorporation plan must continue to be governed as before the approved referendum until the effective date specified in the adopted elector-initiated municipal incorporation plan.
(19) The effective date of the incorporation shall be as provided in the elector-initiated combined conversion and incorporation plan, as appropriate, and is not contingent upon a future act of the Legislature.
History.s. 3, ch. 2012-121; s. 66, ch. 2014-22; s. 4, ch. 2016-22.