Turns out special districts serve a lot of different functions.
Special districts are the most common type of local government by a large margin. But what are the most common kinds of special district?
That would be the fire protection district, according to the 2012 Census of Governments — though it really depends on how you slice it. That’s just the most common single type of special district. By category, the most common type of special district deals in environment and housing.
No individual kind of special district makes up a very large percentage of the total. These entities handle a large array of specific activities — there are 3,248 drainage and flood control districts, for example, and 3,438 housing and community development districts.
And those are just the big ones. There are special districts for hospitals, welfare, soil and water conservation, cemeteries and highways, among other things.
The interactive graphic below shows the most common categories of special districts, including breakdowns of every category that included sub-categories.