(1) The department shall declare inactive any special district in this state by documenting that: (a) The special district meets one of the following criteria:
1. The registered agent of the district, the chair of the governing body of the district, or the governing body of the appropriate local general-purpose government notifies the department in writing that the district has taken no action for 2 or more years;
2. The registered agent of the district, the chair of the governing body of the district, or the governing body of the appropriate local general-purpose government notifies the department in writing that the district has not had a governing body or a sufficient number of governing body members to constitute a quorum for 2 or more years;
3. The registered agent of the district, the chair of the governing body of the district, or the governing body of the appropriate local general-purpose government fails to respond to an inquiry by the department within 21 days;
4. The department determines, pursuant to s. 189.067, that the district has failed to file any of the reports listed in s. 189.066;
5. The district has not had a registered office and agent on file with the department for 1 or more years;
6. The governing body of a special district provides documentation to the department that it has unanimously adopted a resolution declaring the special district inactive. The special district shall be responsible for payment of any expenses associated with its dissolution. A special district declared inactive pursuant to this subparagraph may be dissolved without a referendum; or
(b) The department, special district, or local general-purpose government published a notice of proposed declaration of inactive status in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or municipality in which the territory of the special district is located and sent a copy of such notice by certified mail to the registered agent or chair of the governing body, if any. Such notice must include the name of the special district, the law under which it was organized and operating, a general description of the territory included in the special district, and a statement that any objections must be filed pursuant to chapter 120 within 21 days after the publication date; and
(c) Twenty-one days have elapsed from the publication date of the notice of proposed declaration of inactive status and no administrative appeals were filed.
(2) If any special district is declared inactive pursuant to this section, the property or assets of the special district are subject to legal process for payment of any debts of the district. After the payment of all the debts of said inactive special district, the remainder of its property or assets shall escheat to the county or municipality wherein located. If, however, it shall be necessary, in order to pay any such debt, to levy any tax or taxes on the property in the territory or limits of the inactive special district, the same may be assessed and levied by order of the local general-purpose government wherein the same is situated and shall be assessed by the county property appraiser and collected by the county tax collector.
(3) In the case of a district created by special act of the Legislature, the department shall send a notice of declaration of inactive status to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate, and the standing committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives charged with special district oversight as determined by the presiding officers of each respective chamber and the Legislative Auditing Committee. The notice of declaration of inactive status shall reference each known special act creating or amending the charter of any special district declared to be inactive under this section. The declaration of inactive status shall be sufficient notice as required by s. 10, Art. III of the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature to repeal any special laws so reported. In the case of a district created by one or more local general-purpose governments, the department shall send a notice of declaration of inactive status to the chair of the governing body of each local general-purpose government that created the district. In the case of a district created by interlocal agreement, the department shall send a notice of declaration of inactive status to the chair of the governing body of each local general-purpose government which entered into the interlocal agreement.
(4) The entity that created a special district declared inactive under this section must dissolve the special district by repealing its enabling laws or by other appropriate means. Any special district declared inactive pursuant to subparagraph (1)(a)5. may be dissolved without a referendum.
(5) A special district declared inactive under this section may not collect taxes, fees, or assessments unless the declaration is:
(a) Withdrawn or revoked by the department; or
(b) Invalidated in proceedings initiated by the special district within 30 days after the date written notice of the declaration was provided to the special district governing body by physical or electronic delivery, receipt confirmed. The special district governing body may initiate proceedings within the period authorized in this paragraph by: 1. Filing with the department a petition for an administrative hearing pursuant to s. 120.569; or
2. Filing an action for declaratory and injunctive relief under chapter 86 in the circuit court of the judicial circuit in which the majority of the area of the district is located.
(c) If a timely challenge to the declaration is not initiated by the special district governing body, or the department prevails in a proceeding initiated under paragraph (b), the department may enforce the prohibitions in this subsection by filing a petition for enforcement with the circuit court in and for Leon County. The petition may request declaratory, injunctive, or other equitable relief, including the appointment of a receiver, and any forfeiture or other remedy provided by law.
(d) The prevailing party shall be awarded costs of litigation and reasonable attorney fees in any proceeding brought under this subsection.