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19.5.1 Creation of Special Units.
According to a 1992 survey of governments by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, Kansas had nearly 4,000 special purpose governments (up to 2,000 in 1982).  In most instances special purpose districts such as those for sewers, water supply, fire and drainage are created by action of the county board--whether by petition of affected landowners or at the county board's own initiative.

19.5.2 Impact of Operation of Special Units.
Special purpose units of government unquestionably are of value to members of the public who have no less-costly atlernative to the provision of a particular governmental service.  However utilization of limited purpose govern ments for the provision of services that could be supplied by an already existing, general purpose local government could lead to inefficient public policy.

Unnecessary reliance upon special purpose government can create long-term costs and lead to a fragmented service delivery system.  As land becomes more urban in nature, the infrastructure created by special units may be inadequate to provide for the growing development the special unit helped to promote.  When sewer and water lines, and other public improvements have to be abandoned because of substandard or insufficient capacity public moneys may have to be spent by a general purpose unit of government to provide these services.

Kansas has recognized that limited purpose governments should not be a substitute for existing general purpose governments.  Kansas law requires county boards to take a hard look at the fiscal, economic development, and other impacts of special units before creating or expanding them.    The law requires the board to approve by a three-fourths vote the creation or expansion of boundaries of any "special benefit district" located within three miles of any city which has adopted subdivision regulations.    Those benefit districts affected are:  sewer districts;  water,  rural water and water supply districts;  f ire districts;  improvement districts; i ndustrial districts; and drainage districts.