Gov. Ron DeSantis has indicated that the state of Florida will likely take control of Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District.
The governor of Florida stated that he is working on a proposal that will most likely be addressed by the Legislature following the November elections.
DeSantis said in a statement:
“The path forward is, that Disney will not control its own government in the state of Florida. Disney will have to follow the same laws that every other company has to follow in the state of Florida. They will pay their share of taxes, and they will be responsible for paying the debts.”
When and if the district is officially terminated, its assets and responsibilities would be transferred to the “local general-purpose government” under current Florida state law. Orange County and Osceola County, as well as the Disney-controlled communities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, which contain various Disney World assets, are among those governments.
“I’d much rather have the state leading that effort than potentially having local government [in charge]. … I’m worried that they [local officials] would use that as a pretext to raise taxes on people when that’s what they would want to do anyways and then try to blame Reedy Creek. So we’re not going to give them that opportunity,” said Gov. DeSantis
The Reedy Creek Improvement Act essentially permits Walt Disney World to operate unfettered in Florida, thus operating as its own “government.”
The legislation established a special taxing district with the same powers as a county government. The bill claimed that landowners in the Reedy Creek Improvement District, principally Walt Disney World, might be held completely accountable for the costs of providing basic municipal services such as electricity, water, roads, and fire protection. Local taxpayers, i.e. Orange and Osceola County residents, would not be responsible for the construction or maintenance of those services.
Reedy Creek, which is controlled by Disney, can issue tax-free bonds, levy taxes, oversee land use and environmental protections and provide essential public services.
Democrats in the state have attacked DeSantis for going after Disney, claiming the dissolution of RCID would force county taxpayers to foot the bill for more than $1 billion in bond debt.
DeSantis’ plan alleviates that concern. Here’s what he said, referring to the counties:
“First of all, it’d be a cash cow for them if they had Disney.”
“But I’m worried that they would use that as a pretext to raise taxes on people when that’s what they would want to do anyway and then try to blame Reedy Creek, so we’re not going to give them that opportunity.”
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